Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fivay's award-winning teachers take creative approach to economics, entrepreneurship

Eric J. Johnson and Stefanie Adams use innovative methods to arrive at their common goal — to do as much as they can.


Eric J. Johnson and Stefanie Adams use innovative methods to arrive at their common goal — to do as much as they can.

It all began with two lemonade stands. Then came the state award. Next could come a meeting with a former vice president of the United States.

The Fivay High teaching team of Eric J. Johnson and Stefanie Adams finished the 2012-13 school year by winning first place at the high school level at the 34th Annual Governor's Awards, hosted by the Florida Council on Economic Education. Awarded for the project "Customer Service Has A BIG Impact On small Business," the council recognized Johnson and Adams among "Florida's most outstanding teachers for creativity in presenting lessons in economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship."

According to Johnson, this award is just the beginning.

"We're just scratching the surface," said Johnson, a four-time winner. "It's just going to get bigger and better."

The teachers bring different experiences to their team. Johnson teaches social studies, geography and economics. Adams is a one-time biology instructor who built upon her experience as a professional caterer to become a culinary arts teacher.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, the two found that they had a common objective.

"At the end of the day, we just want to be sure that the kids have learned something," said Johnson. "We're just two teachers trying to do as much as we can."

"I have a favorite old phrase that I often apply to my students," said Adams. "It says, 'Average people have wishes and dreams. Confident people have goals and plans.' "

Seeking to educate students about the possibilities of success in small business, the teachers conceptualized the customer service project by opening two lemonade stands on campus.

While one stand was a basic, unadorned structure selling lemonade, the other was a fully functioning small business; with Adams' students preparing a gourmet lemonade with special flavorings, decorative ice formations and candy garnishes. Johnson's students renovated an eye-catching vehicle, set product pricing and formulated a marketing and advertising plan.

The students found that the professionally planned and marketed stand far outperformed its more traditional counterpart.

Inspired by the success of the project, the teachers hope to make a bigger impact this year with an occasional formal restaurant at Fivay.

Set to be presented on two evenings in the school's atrium, the upscale eatery will be open to the public with individual meal sales and exclusive table sponsorships available.

Adams' culinary students will plan and prepare the menu. Johnson's social studies and economics students will set prices and market and advertise the restaurant. Special-needs students at the school will create centerpieces, which also will serve as fundraisers for the construction of an educational play area for autistic students at the school.

"It seems we just had an 'Aha moment' ," Adams said, "and we're running with it."

Johnson hopes Adams and her students will join his AP human geography class for a planned trip to Costa Rica in January where they will study environmental concepts in the Amazon rain forest and perhaps meet former Vice President Al Gore.

"The one thing that these projects have in common," said Johnson, "is that they open students' minds up to the possibilities."

>>fast facts

How you can help

Many of the projects are being funded by Johnson and Adams; team leaders are in search of business and community sponsorships to offset costs. For more information, call Johnson or Adams at Fivay High School, (727) 246-4000.

Fivay's award-winning teachers take creative approach to economics, entrepreneurship 08/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 11:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. AP: Rick Scott to name Jimmy Patronis CFO on Monday


    From the AP's Gary Fineout:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is turning to a long-time political ally and former north Florida legislator to take over one of the top elected jobs in state government. 

    Then state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City Beach, left, and Gov. Rick Scott, tour downtown Panama City, Fla. on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Scott will name Patronis CFO on Monday.
  2. Despite Pride success, Grand Central business owners upset over losing parade


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Grand Central District was packed with people Sunday, there to enjoy the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    Patrons eat lunch and cool off inside of the Community Cafe during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival along Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times

  3. Rays blow another lead, lose rubber match to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles rallied past the Rays on Sunday, winning the rubber match of the three-game series 8-5.

    Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) scores in the eighth in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow heads back to Sunshine State with promotion to St. Lucie


    Tim Tebow is coming back to the Sunshine State.

    Columbia Fireflies outfielder Tim Tebow looks out from the dugout before the team's game against the Augusta GreenJackets on April 6 in Columbia, S.C. Columbia defeated Augusta 14-7.
  5. 'Sharknado' coming to Tampa Theatre with director Q&A


    A movie about a tornado filled with man-eating sharks has to be better on the big screen, right? You'll have a chance to find out for yourself when the Syfy network's original Sharknado screens at Tampa Theatre.

    The original 'Sharknado,' which premiered in 2013, will screen at Tampa Theatre.