From Classroom to Checkout: Students learn life skills with student-run market


The ringing of a cash register isn’t a typical sound heard in an elementary school, but at Victor H. Hexter Elementary School, students are learning how to run and operate their own store.

Known as “Hexter Market,” students in Heidi Zeko’s Functional Living Skills (FLS) class take on the role of shopkeeper. Recognizing the diverse abilities of her students, Zeko tailors tasks to each individual’s strengths, ensuring an inclusive and engaging experience.

Adorned in blue, custom-made aprons, students help customers choose a snack, each priced at only $1.

“They’ll work in shifts to greet customers, ask what they want, and give them change. Some may be stocking the store if we’re low on items, just like you would in a real store,” Zeko said. “We’ve been practicing a lot.”

While her mathematics lessons already include identifying money i.e. understanding the value of coins versus dollar bills, students now have the opportunity to regularly immerse themselves in their learning when the store is open for business.

“The biggest motivation for me is the fact that our students need hands-on experience so badly in terms of work skills and training,” Zeko said. “I’m excited to see the reaction of our students and the excitement they’ll feel by being really successful and interacting in such a neat way.”

Hexter Market resides in the school’s hallway for faculty and staff to visit during their lunch hour, every other Friday. Thanks to a grant from the Dallas Retired Teachers Association, Zeko was able to purchase sparkling water, soda, candy, chocolate bars, granola bars, chips, and ramen noodles to sell. However, the real treat is what students are experiencing along the way.

Eventually, Zeko would like to sell campus merchandise with help from the school’s Parent Teacher Association. “When they [students]heard about it, they were super excited to jump on board because it’s much more engaging than a lesson I could teach, or something we do in a classroom that isn’t as hands-on.”

For Zeko and her class, the true reward lies in the students’ enhanced confidence and enthusiasm for learning, making Hexter Market a business of success.


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