- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Fox Ridge Middle School students launch T-shirt shop
“It’s always fun, so let’s do it!”
You can hear the enthusiasm in Ava Nelson’s voice when she’s asked about being part of “Inclusive Prints.” That’s the name of the T-shirt business that she and other students with special needs launched on March 1 in the Integrated Learning Center (ILC) classroom at Fox Ridge Middle School.
“I am all about life skills for my middle school students in ILC,” said Fox Ridge ILC teacher Eva Zimmerman. “So, it’s great because they’re learning job skills.”
Those skills include working with customers and coworkers, taking orders, creating designs, managing inventory and using equipment ranging from computers to a heat press machine.
The ILC students, who have a variety of special needs, have already designed and pressed more than 120 T-shirts. In the process, they’ve learned a lot about having a job and running a business. They’ve also learned a lot about themselves.
“They have built more confidence in themselves, knowing that they have made something from start to finish by themselves,” said ILC para-professional Tammy Niemer. “It’s just wonderful to see their faces when I hold up their shirt and say ‘You did this! You put on the design, you pressed it, you did it!’”
Middle and high school years go by quickly, said ILC teacher Eva Zimmerman. She wants to make every moment count.
“I don’t want my students to turn 21 and not have any idea of what it’s like to have a job and feel that sense of purpose,” she said. “It’s really important that we start building those life schools in middle school. That’s why we cook, that’s why we have businesses like this, that’s why we’re working on social skills. I want all of my students to have a fulfilling life after school.”