Eagle Card Shop keeps JE students learning, customers smiling

Five years ago, Jordan-Elbridge special education teacher Gayle McCabe and Dave Zehner, the high school principal at the time, put their heads together. McCabe wanted to start an entrepreneurial project that would enhance the educational experience for her students, and Zehner had the perfect idea.

"After brainstorming with the principal he came up with this idea of having a card shop," McCabe said. "By chance and luck one of my friends happens to be a card distributor, and she was thrilled to have someone to take her stock."

And so the Eagle Card Shop was born.

"There's nothing like getting a real card in the mail," McCabe said. "It's the one area where, people may be writing less letters, but it's certainly nice to get a card."

Since that conversation with Zehner, McCabe and her students have taken sample and overstock greeting cards that would've otherwise been thrown away, and prepared them to be sold at a discounted price right out of the classroom. McCabe said the business meshes well with the curriculum of English and mathematics.

"A lot of what that business is is reading and math, so it fits in beautifully, really," she said, adding: "It's a real self esteem booster, and I think by having the business in the classroom it makes our classroom a very positive environment where people want to be."

McCabe students learn all aspects of running a business through the shop, like important customer service skills, and the work is varied enough that there's something for everyone. McCabe said lower functioning students can learn to sort envelopes by color and size, while higher functioning students can match card size to the appropriate envelopes.

The business is not without assistance from the school community.

JE business students have helped McCabe's students develop business and advertising ideas, and technology students constructed a rolling display unit that McCabe's class brings to the cafeteria during lunch periods and to special events.

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