FESTUS, MO - Festus High School students are learning how to run a business while spreading tiger pride across campus. The new Tiger Team Store is a collaboration between the business students and the special education students.
The student-run operation opened at the start of this school year after a year of careful planning. The idea started with a conversation between special education teacher Jena Bohn and business education teacher Rob Propst about how to give students a way to apply the skills they were learning in the classroom in a real-world situation.
Students pitched the idea to the school administration, and Propst said school leadership was on board from the beginning. Over the 2017-2018 school year, the business plan was formed, an old classroom was converted into a store, and students selected the items they wanted to see sold in the store including t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, water bottles and more.
"It's very new to everyone, but at the same time, it has already made tremendous sales and has really brought students and staff together," said Emily Geisner, a senior and Tiger Team Store Manager.
Bohn said the store is an opportunity for students of all ability levels on campus to gain experience running a business.
"To know (the special education students) had that same equal right to have a chance to work here was amazing," said Bohn.
The team store has four student employees, and they are looking to hire more. Students are paid in experience and must go through an application and interview process to be considered.
Propst is using the team store in lessons for his marketing, business management, and personal finance classes.
"The whole concept of this is to bring kind of a university type feel to it," said Propst. "Here at Festus we want to try and strive not only for high school, we want to try and take them beyond that."
Student employees say the experience they are getting at the team store is preparing them for life after high school. Geisner said she is considering going into business and managing the Tiger Team Store is giving her the experience she needs to pursue that goal.
Team store assistant manager Justin Sprous is in his junior year. He wants to get into carpentry before pursuing a degree in computer science. He believes the skills he is learning at the team store will help in any profession he chooses.
"Keeping track of how many items we have an inventory and making sure the register till is right in counting the sales," said Sprous. "That's going to be important because I'm going to have to keep track of whatever documents I have in the future."
Geisner said the availability of gear at the team store is helping to spread school spirit. Before the team store opened, she said students had to get their gear online or through the booster club.
"I see so many more of my friends wearing our material, and since I work here it's kind of exciting," said Geisner.
Propst estimates the store will bring in a profit after the first year or two. The money will be invested back into the school for future improvement projects.