Farmington special needs students get down to business

A group of Farmington Public Schools (FPS) students with special needs are learning how to run their school’s micro-enterprise in the middle of a pandemic.

Visions Unlimited serves 18-26-year-olds with physical and developmental disabilities.

During the 2019-20 school year, teacher Jill Thompson decided to move her students from making the business products to also running the business. She taught them how to make flyers, manage the financials, and contact customers.

Farmington Public Schools Visions Unlimited microenterprise
A Visions Unlimited student paints a pot for the school’s new plant business. (Farmington Public Schools)

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, para-educator Dara Weber decided the program should continue and proposed a virtual class on propagating and caring for plants. Weber felt the project would benefit her students’ mental health, but they loved it so much, the plants became part of the Visions micro-enterprise.

Every week, business partners in three online classes discussed pot designs, cost-effectiveness, pricing, and much more. Students determined how much to charge for the plants based on a formula retailers use.

Farmington Public Schools Visions Unlimited
Visions teachers and paraprofessionals provide accommodations so all students can participate. (Farmington Public Schools)

“Honestly, this has been the greatest learning experience for me as an educator,” Weber said in a press release. “With all of our stumbles along the way, the students never lost focus, they never got discouraged, never said anything negative or unkind towards each other. They constantly challenge me to think and respond differently.”

FPS Visions planters
Visions Unlimited students enjoy potting plants, which allows them to see the finished product. (Farmington Public Schools)

Weber believes the pandemic “has really given Visions students the access, knowledge, and real-world experience on how to run a business, and what it takes to work with others, both virtually and in-person. All of these are very valuable skills for their future.”

Visions Unlimited has for more than 20 years sold items ranging from bath bombs to bird feeders. To support the micro-enterprise, visit farmington.k12.mi.us/domain/668.

You’ll find a plant order form here: bit.ly/VisionsPlants.

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