28 Students at San Jose Christian School Started Real Businesses and Made Sales as Part of an Innovative Entrepreneurship Class.
During the program, students launched real companies like car washing, babysitting, baked goods, jewelry, and more, and generated hundreds of dollars of sales during the course.
But not only are students making sales, they are also using their businesses to give back to the community. One company, Sweet Shop, provided 100 cookies for the end-of-year middle school mixer! Additionally, many of the students indicated that they wanted to continue with their businesses after the course, so we know that these results are only the beginning.
Mr. Plares, who taught this elective course said, “I am so proud of the work our students put in to create and launch their businesses. Many went from knowing very little about running a business to creating business ideas, turning those business ideas into real products and services, and making consistent sales throughout the year. They have gained valuable experiences and new skills that they will help them succeed in any career path they choose.”
The program was a huge success and we are excited to see what amazing things our students will accomplish as they continue with their businesses!
Watch the Video: See the short highlight video of the students’ achievements here.
Entrepreneurship Creates Deep Learning. “Entrepreneurship education has an opportunity to “trigger deep learning and instill engagement, joy, motivation, confidence, and feelings of relevancy among students.” – Entrepreneurship in Education, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development
Entrepreneurship Cultivates Self-Initiative. “Entrepreneurship education empowers young people to see the world as opportunity rich, and to craft the lives they dream to live.” – Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship, Aspen Institute
Entrepreneurship Equips Young People. “In the United States, 55% of the adult population have started at least one business in their lifetime, with 26% saying they have started two or more businesses.” – Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Babson College
The Impact of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is one of the most impactful subjects to teach in the classroom today because it is about so much more than just starting a business. It is one of the few cross-curricular activities that brings together everything students are learning in school.
Entrepreneurship provides a practical way to learn key soft skills like confidence, creativity, and grit that they will need in the world they’re about to enter. These skills will stick with students for the rest of their lives!
In fact, nationwide, 95% of teachers using the Boss Club entrepreneurship curriculum reported that their students grew in confidence, creativity, critical thinking, or other key areas, which are skills that can be applied to all other areas of students’ lives.
About Boss Club:
Boss Club’s innovative entrepreneurship curriculum is used in hundreds of schools across the country and helps middle and high school students start their first business, equipping them with the confidence, creativity, and grit uniquely forged by entrepreneurship.
Learn more at BossClub.com.
This blog is part of a series for 2023-24 to share our GRATITUDE for the people and places where we see God's goodness in our community. This post gives thanks for Beautiful Day, a local nonprofit that started out of WestGate Church. It features interviews from three of the many individuals who made the projects at SJCS possible including: Finny Abraham (Local Compassion Pastor at WestGate), Ronnie Lynds (Project Director at Beautiful Day), and Andy Hood (Project Lead at Beautiful Day).
In 2004 a former lead pastor at WestGate Church asked the congregation, “If our church burned down today, would the community care?” At the time, the answer was a definitive “no,” according to their website. Nearly two decades, 85,000 volunteer hours, and over $1 million later, WestGate’s Local Compassion Pastor, Finny Abraham, says the answer has changed.
“There would be schools, organizations, and government leaders now that would be concerned,” Finny affirmed. By making Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor” tangible, Beautiful Day has caught the attention of local government and secular and Christian non-profits alike. Not only would these individuals and organizations notice if the church were no longer there, they have also come alongside Beautiful Day to partner with the organization.
Finny emphasized that compassion means to “suffer with,” so in acts of love and service, he says, we get closer to a problem and empathize with our neighbors. “Jesus came to us,” he explained, and through service Christians get close to the problem and have the opportunity to, “close the gap between the need and the people who can provide for the need.” In service, we are not only aware of a problem or the suffering of others but we are actively working to restore it.
This year Beautiful Day chose San Jose Christian School as a site for their weekend of service projects around Santa Clara County. The project will have the second-largest budget for a Beautiful Day project in the organization's history. More than 120 volunteers will be coming to SJCS this weekend, October 7 and 8, to meet needs on our campus.
Of the 100% volunteer-run organization, more than 95 people have stepped up as project directors, project leads, or sub-leads. These individuals generously give countless hours of their time each year obtaining materials, organizing volunteers, and planning for Beautiful Day projects. Andy Hood and Ronnie Lynds are two of these lead volunteers, and they are leads for the upcoming projects at San Jose Christian School.
“I do this work and I do it all the time, year-round, every weekend, because God has given me skills and I want to use them for His glory,” Andy said. As a project lead, he enjoys seeing people gain new skills during the weekend and then continue and step up to help on future projects as volunteers or new sub-leads. He has also witnessed the long-term impact of these projects when they relieve the burdens placed on maintenance workers.
“I do this work and I do it all the time, year-round, every weekend, because God has given me skills and I want to use them for His glory."
“We’ve seen maintenance technicians and groundskeepers get really excited and join us and take on other parts of the project after we leave, because they’ve been so motivated and moved away from the heavy burden of not getting things done to then be freed up to do things they’ve wanted to do all along.”
At San Jose Christian School these projects will not only free up our Facilities Manager but also our budget and our future plans for campus improvements. Beautiful Day is relieving a burden from our teachers and our school to take care of projects that we would not have the time or resources to complete without their generosity.
Beautiful Day recognized that while non-Christian organizations may receive funding or support from Christian and non-Christian sources, Christian ministries often do not get the support non-Christian organizations or government entities offer. After noticing the need within Christian communities, Finny explained that the motivation was: “If we don’t step up, who will?”
“We love teachers and we want to improve their working conditions in any way we can,” Ronnie Lynds acknowledged. After noting how funding has gone down for schools and nonprofits, he continued, “we bring a lot of hands and a lot of energy that they wouldn’t have normally had… and we knock out some huge projects.”
“If we don’t step up, who will?”
At San Jose Christian School, we are excited for the impact of the planned Beautiful Day projects. Teams will be working in the front of the school, in walkways, and in classrooms. They will be replacing tanbark, painting building exteriors, renovating middle school classrooms, changing out hallway light fixtures, and renovating the preschool bathroom.
“It’s going to help, it’s going to have an impact when people walk into school and get a good feeling for the school. It’s going to help kids, pre-K kids… and it’s going to make things safer out there,” Ronnie noted, describing the improvements that will be made to parking lot lighting, middle school benches, and the preschool bathrooms.
“We’ve been extremely excited to see what God’s going to do,” Andy said. He described how much he enjoys seeing people and families come together for these projects. Rather than put an age limit on his projects, he said he likes to involve children in the projects to give them the opportunity to serve alongside their parents.
But it’s not just kids learning new skills. Describing his experience with prior projects, Ronnie said adult volunteers learn how to patch sheetrock, get up on ladders, do electrical work, and sometimes how to drive scissor lifts. This gives their volunteers new confidence. “They tell us, you know, since I did this at Beautiful Day, I went and did it and my friends ask me: ‘Where did you learn to do that?’”
These life skills that volunteers pick up from Beautiful Day become new ways to live out their faith. Finny Abraham explained that after an experience with Beautiful Day, people know who to go to when they see a need in their community. As people of faith, we can go beyond identifying a need and be able to say, “I can do something about it.”
“We’ve been extremely excited to see what God’s going to do.”
Living out our faith can look like driving a forklift with mulch or installing new light fixtures. It can look like delivering water or tearing out carpet. It can look like giving up a weekend to love our neighbor. This is part of our mission at San Jose Christian School. When we come together as a body of believers to serve, we are living out our commitment to serve for our students.
Of volunteering with Beautiful Day, Ronnie concluded, “It’s a good chance to learn new skills, meet new people, and afterwards you can stand back and see what your own hands did and what you were a part of.”
Feeling inspired by this post? Use your gifts and volunteer at SJCS.
The mission of San Jose Christian School is to advance the kingdom of God through exceptional teaching fully integrated with Biblical perspective. Within our Christian community, we seek to engage and transform culture for Jesus Christ.
SJCS administers a student-adaptive standardized test to Grades 2 - 8 called NWEA MAP Growth. The NWEA MAP website opens, “See their needs. Close the gaps. Help them grow.” This aligns with our SJCS approach where we aim to support each unique learner. SJCS students take fall and spring tests in the areas of math, reading, and language to inform teachers of student needs, support differentiation, and measure growth.
Spring MAP testing results are in! Let’s take a look at the results to celebrate some of the ways our team used MAP testing to see student needs, close gaps, and help our students grow.
Spring 2023 Testing Results
Two years ago COVID interrupted student learning worldwide. For schools across the U.S., math education during and post-COVID was especially challenging. Because MAP testing results give specific data about student and class achievement in specific areas (ex. operational and algebraic thinking, number and operations, geometry, statistics), SJCS teachers can target learning gaps, what students are ready to learn next, and which areas need particular focus during instruction and assessment.
SJCS responded to math learning gaps post-COVID by adding a math push-in teacher to support students on the above- and below-level spectrum for Grades 4 and 5 math. Additionally, math teachers met monthly during the 21-22 school year to collaborate and unite in meeting the challenges of students with diverse math needs.
Spring 2023 MAP results show that our math class averages grew 3 - 16 RIT points from September to March, with most math classes ranking higher than grade level and California private school norms.
K - 2 Language Arts
San Jose Christian follows a curriculum review cycle to ensure quality curriculum which meets and exceeds standards. In our most recent language arts curriculum review, elementary teachers and the Education Committee chose SuperKids for JK-2.
MAP results confirm the excellence of the SuperKids program which covers reading comprehension, phonics, writing, spelling, and penmanship. According to the fall MAP reading scores, Grade 2 started the 22-23 school year five RIT points higher than the California private school average. The spring MAP results show that the class average grew nine RIT points since September, keeping the class average well above California private school norms.
3 - 8 Language Arts
The language MAP test comprises three categories: writing (plan, organize, develop, revise, research), grammar (edit, understand, use), and mechanics (edit, understand). SJCS uses Easy Grammar, Daily Grammar, and Step Up to Writing to teach these language skills. The elementary classes who take this particular test grew 5 - 9 RIT points during the course of this year, continuing their history of exceeding grade level and private school norms.
In middle school these skills are integrated into the daily language arts curriculum as well as taught specifically in a weekly grammar class. Past MAP results for each unique learner were used in the Grade 7 class to pilot differentiated instruction. Additionally, Greek and Latin vocabulary were added to the grammar curriculum.
This responsive teaching resulted in 88% of Grade 7 students scoring at or above grade level on the spring language MAP test, an increase of five RIT points which placed the class average above California private school norms.
Recent conversations with SJCS alumni and comments on the 2023 alumni survey affirm that SJCS is living out its mission.
“San Jose Christian’s preparation for academic excellence helped me become my high school’s valedictorian,” one alumnus wrote.
Another praised, “My time at SJCS has given me academic confidence going into high school thanks to amazing teachers who are strong, Godly leaders. The solid, clear, and efficient teaching at SJCS has been a great foundation for my education.”
Current high school students share that “SJCS fully succeeded in preparing me for every aspect of high school” and that “I felt very confident coming into [high school] math after attending SJCS.”
As SJCS continues to move forward in its mission, we are committed to meaningful faith integration, excellent curriculum, effective teaching, and Christ-centered community. May God be praised as we offer our school, our community, and our work to God’s glory.
This blog is part of a series for the 2022-23 school year to ILLUMINATE how God is at work at San Jose Christian School. Each post will SPOTLIGHT a specific grade level and/or program. This fourth post in the series is a SPOTLIGHT on teaching problem solving at SJCS and features interviews from: Shannon McNerney (2nd Grade Teacher) and Tabitha DeAnda (1st-2nd Learning Center and 3rd-8th Art Teacher)
Part of Our Mission at SJCS is to prepare students to “engage and transform culture for Christ,” and in order to accomplish this, Shannon McNerney says students need to learn that transformation is possible. Ms. McNerney is the 2nd Grade Teacher at SJCS, and while transformation sounds extraordinary, she says that her students have ordinary opportunities to see transformations every day in math problems, conflicts at recess, or even on a blank piece of paper.
“Problems are part of The Fall story,” Ms. McNerney said. “We're going to have problems in our lives. We can't avoid that. But teaching [students] that it's something they can work through shows them that transformation is possible.”
This is the “engage” part of “engage and transform.” It is necessary for students to address the problems in their lives much like they must answer the problems in their math workbooks. Problems are going to happen, but when students understand that problems can be worked through, they learn not to give up in the face of difficulty.
“The students drive those teachable moments,” Tabitha DeAnda observed. Mrs. DeAnda teaches 1st and 2nd Grade Learning Center as well as 3rd-8th Grade Art and works closely with Ms. McNerney to support and teach their shared 2nd Grade students. The two teachers emphasized that while they do not know every problem students will face throughout a day, they are very intentional in planning for and anticipating misconceptions. Their classes are set up to provide a safe environment with the tools and resources a student would need in order to work through problems when they arise.
“We're going to have problems in our lives. We can't avoid that. But teaching them that it's something they can work through shows them that transformation is possible.”
“They have access to everything,” Mrs. DeAnda said, describing the structures, visual aids, and daily routines she uses in her classroom, “so my biggest tool is teaching them how to find it.”
Mrs. DeAnda gave the example of a student who did not have all the materials they needed at the beginning of class. When this student asked for help, her response came in the form of a question: “How can I find that?” She explained that this technique gave her student the chance to think through the problem rather than being given the answer.
While Mrs. DeAnda could tell her students exactly what they need and where to find it, she does not believe it is always in their best interest long-term. “I like to ask questions like how can you fix that? or how can you find that?... because I want to teach students to think: if I’m in a situation where I need to do this by myself, what are the resources I can use?”
Giving students the opportunity to think through their problems creates new pathways in their brains. Mrs. DeAnda remarked, “You’re teaching them that they’re forever going to be learning… that’s the perspective and culture we want to instill in them at a very early age.”
“Where this was a struggle for them, I see that transformation where they’re not going home defeated.”
In order to foster a culture of lifelong learning, students need opportunities to practice working through challenges in a safe space. At San Jose Christian, we teach the Whole Child with an approach that recognizes the uniqueness of every student. One program available to students who are experiencing challenges with reading and writing fluency is the Learning Center. In the Learning Center, the class sizes are smaller, which allows Learning Center Teachers to provide lessons with even more individualized pacing and support to meet students’ learning needs.
“If we did not finish one of the things on the agenda, I’m not moving on and jumping in the next day just because it’s a new day,” Mrs. DeAnda said. “We’re understanding the concepts before building upon them.”
Mrs. DeAnda explained how she wants learning to be a positive experience. Creating a safe and supportive environment that allows students the time they need to learn is what makes this possible. “It gives them the space to actually dial back,” Mrs. DeAnda noted, “and for us to hone into what their needs are and provide them with the tools necessary for them to succeed in the classroom.”
And this approach makes a tangible difference for student learning. Mrs. DeAnda described the transformation she has seen in her Learning Center classroom. “Where this was a struggle for them, I see that transformation where they’re not going home defeated. I’m hearing that they love going... This is fun for them. I mean, this is hard for them, but I’m trying in every possible way to make them feel like learning is amazing.”
“Every moment you’re seeing this magical experience for them.”
Both teachers said that what they enjoy most about working with second graders is their students’ curiosity. Mrs. DeAnda added that second graders are so eager to learn. “Every moment you’re seeing this magical experience for them. It’s so groundbreaking for them because it’s the first time for them learning everything and they’re still just so curious.”
Students’ natural curiosity means they are already longing for an explanation, answer, or solution. Ms. McNerney sees their natural curiosity as an asset for teaching problem solving, especially to get students started when they feel stuck. “Something I see that's really helpful is treating [a problem] almost like a puzzle,” she said, “which can be helpful for them because it’s not looking at something and seeing it as blank… but instead thinking where does this go?” The benefit of this approach is that it breaks the problem apart and allows a student to focus on, for example, writing the first three words instead of the whole paragraph.
Embracing natural curiosity also shows students that they have problem-solving tools inside of them, which teaches not only independence but also self-reflection. “I really enjoy watching them finally be able to communicate with me,” Ms. McNerney stated. When students look inside for a solution, they can identify areas of strength and areas of potential growth for themselves.
Ms. McNerney also described how when students better understand their own learning style, they can intentionally choose strategies or tools from several options. A visual learner, for example, will look for support on a poster in the room or from a color-coded chart when they get stuck, whereas an auditory learner may raise their hand to ask a question or to hear something repeated.
Additionally, Ms. McNerney explained that all the tools and strategies she provides for students become a “toolkit” that she references in class. When students are working, she says “there may be 12 different strategies given that they can use… and I like watching the kids recognize what works and what doesn't.”
“I think that problem solving can make a more student-centered classroom”
Self-reflection has the added benefit of showing students that learning is not all-or-nothing. Ms. McNerney noted this in describing how students communicate their feelings about different subjects. “There’s a switch that happens when they recognize: ‘Okay, I have certain skills that I appreciate in math, but I have a hard time with reading and writing.’” Rather than believing that because one aspect of school is difficult, they must not like school in general, these second grade students are already showing evidence of a growth mindset.
And it is important to allow students to see that learning is happening whether a task feels easier or more difficult. Both teachers mentioned that creating a safe space in their classrooms includes validating students' feelings when they find something difficult and normalizing that ability is not connected to how quickly a student can overcome a problem.
“We both will say that: I don’t know yet,” Ms. McNerney explained. And when students say: I don’t know or I can’t do it, she reframes their language. She will acknowledge that, “Yes, it is hard,” before emphasizing that they can do it, it will just require a different approach or a solution they have not tried yet.
Mrs. DeAnda added that she models this by sharing some of her own challenges and struggles. “I think we can be honest and open about ourselves and with them,” she said, adding, “We’re all learning together.”
Life is a learning process with problems and difficulties. As we prepare students to be world-changers, we are also teaching them that they are part of a community of Christians who are learning and growing as well. When students see that problems, even difficult problems, can be solved, they also see that they can be a transformed person.
“I think that problem solving can make a more student-centered classroom, which is what my goal personally is. In the end,” Ms. McNerney remarked, “they’re going to feel like: This is a place that is for me.”
Rae Sterk is the Director of Community Development at San Jose Christian.
Shannon McNerney is the 2nd Grade Teacher at San Jose Christian.
Tabitha DeAnda is the 1st-2nd Grade Learning Center Teacher and the 3rd-8th Grade Art Teacher at San Jose Christian.
The mission of San Jose Christian School is to advance the kingdom of God through exceptional teaching and curriculum fully integrated with a Biblical perspective. Within our Christian community, we seek to engage and transform culture for Jesus Christ.
Ask elementary students about a favorite part of school and you will likely hear, “RECESS!” Mister Rogers himself would agree that recess is an important and necessary “classroom” as he noted, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” The well-known poem "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" confirms this viewpoint with its opening lines, “All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile…”
At San Jose Christian our Reformed perspective starts at creation with the truth that the whole world belongs to God for God’s kingdom purposes. Eden was paradise where people were created for flourishing. This is why we teach the whole child at SJCS and why all aspects of our time at school–classes, collaborative work, spiritual practices, relationship-building, recess and playground time–are valuable and critical parts of the school day. Seriously!
Part of my job description as Teaching Principal is to “foster sound relationships among students, parents, staff, and Board; oversee student discipline and advancement of citizenship and spiritual/emotional/academic growth; and mentor and counsel students as needed through transitions or growth.” This is no small task, and, by its very nature, will not be complete until Jesus comes again. Given the challenge and scope, I see student support as one of the most difficult yet kingdom-oriented parts of my job at SJCS. I have opportunities every day to see God at work and join Him in that good work, work which can bring the kingdom of God here on earth and give glimpses of the paradise for which we were created.
The playground is full of opportunities for us to transform culture for Jesus Christ.
What might paradise, the flourishing for which we were intended, look like at SJCS? Imagine a playground where differences in students are celebrated and enjoyed. Imagine a recess game where each student joyfully and purposefully contributes. Imagine a conversation between principal and parent where grace and truth coexist. Imagine two students practicing conflict resolution tools which lead to forgiveness and healing in the relationship. Friends—these are all marks of God’s kingdom here on earth! The playground is full of opportunities for us to transform culture for Jesus Christ.
We were created for paradise! We see this paradise in part whenever God’s will is done or His power is shown. But it is an already-not yet kingdom until Jesus comes again. Until that day, we have good work to do in moving toward the flourishing for which we were created. Here are some of the intentional ways we are living out God’s kingdom at SJCS.
August | Grades 1-5 students gathered in the auditorium for a Playground Presentation to establish procedures and expectations in a community setting. Teachers joined the fun by role-playing for students what good choices can look like on the playground.
September | Our first Grade 5 Recess Pieces students started their leadership role. Each one completed an application which included self-reflection on servant leadership. Six students applied for the position and were chosen to serve this year. The Recess Pieces support the recess monitors with playground equipment pickup and advise the Teaching Principal in understanding concerns of our playground culture.
October, January, March, May | Four times throughout the school year I go into elementary classrooms to lead a Principal Connect session on an area of social-emotional well-being. In October we explored self-awareness, the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values. We recognized the range of emotions God created in us as a stepping stone to understanding self and promoting communication about our emotions with the important people in our lives. (If you are an SCJS parent you can read about this Principal Connect in your student’s Faith Journey postings.) Upcoming Principal Connect sessions will focus on self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Year-round | I have the heavy and holy responsibility to walk students through conflict resolution and choice-making. If students come to my office after a conflict, we take time to practice active listening. During this time of gathering information, each of us listens fully to the other without interrupting. In a culture where assumptions and interruptions are the norm, we want to listen well to one another to hear the heart and seek healing and restoration in relationship to God, self, and others.Through object lessons such as a quarter in my hand, a string held by two people, two concentric circles, or an apple placed among a group, I help students consider what a step forward might look like.
Imagining paradise in our daily lives sharpens our purpose and moves us forward in kingdom-minded ways. God made a beautiful, whole, fully-alive creation meant for flourishing and His glory. While we are reminded daily of the sin within ourselves and others, as Christians we have hope based on the truth of the resurrection. We can love those who hurt us because God loved us first while we were still in sin. We can seek healing and restoration because the Holy Spirit bears fruit in us of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. While this “work” is not always easy, it is good. It is God’s work in and through us that brings God glory.