Tag Archives: transition

What’s in a name?

12 May

The Swanky Swine began, like everything begins, as an idea.  It started in a conversation that went something like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could start a program that would give our kids the skills they needed to get jobs?”

Then, “Wouldn’t it be really cool if we could start a business so our kids could have jobs in an environment that they are already flourishing in?”

Then, “What if our mascot was a pig with a mustache?”  Admittedly, that part was a harder sell.

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The question we get asked the most when we’re meeting parents, doing newspaper interviews or wearing our t-shirts is, “Where did you get that name?”  The truth is, it all started with a piggy bank.

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Before we opened our store, we identified one of our student’s biggest deficiencies was money management.  Counting money is a critical functional skill for all students.  It’s a skill that many of us take for granted but imagine how difficult life would be without it.  Understanding currency is the first step towards self sufficiency and the ability to live independently in the community.  It gives our students access to the things they need to purchase and the freedom to make these purchasing decisions on their own.

It’s not just counting change, its a necessary, foundational skill.  Counting small change is the literally the beginning of big change (get it?!).

So we started with pennies, nickels  dimes and quarters.  We presented it a lot of different ways, we used touch math, flash cards, worksheets, ipad apps and anything else we could get our hands on.  In the midst of these lessons we purchased each student a little pink piggy bank from Target.  When students answered questions correctly, or completed an assignment they would get plastic coins that they would collect in their banks.  Once every couple of weeks, the students would open their banks, count their coins and could purchase things from a class store.

The students LOVED their banks much more than we anticipated.  We drew mustaches on the boy’s banks so they seemed a bit more masculine.  The students named them and displayed them proudly on their desks.

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So when it came time to start our store we knew that homage must be paid to the pigs who started it all.

From the beginning,  we wanted our store to be more than just a typical school store. We wanted the name to reflect that we were setting a different standard.  After throwing out “the Pretentious Pig” and then then “Swaggering Sow” we landed on the “Swanky Swine.”

Our mascot has a mustache and a monocle that of course are indicative of his style and class.  However, most importantly the Swanky Swine is a pink piggy bank that represents that first small step towards big change in our students lives.  He’s also inspired a growing collection of banks that are displayed in our school’s lobby,

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AND an stylish t-shirt that is worn by our awesome supporters all over the country.

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Every time someone asks “Why does that pig have a mustache?” it’s another chance to tell the story of a small school store that’s attempting to make big change.  We believe the old adage,  “From small beginnings come great  things” and we have only just begun.

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Our First Golf Tournament (and our public debut)!

5 May

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Yesterday, we finally had our public debut at the first annual Woodlawn Community Academy charity golf tournament. The event was held at the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club in Belleair and was coordinated by the WCA parent board.  Pat Shriver who is a Woodlawn parent and a professional golf instructor at the Shriver Golf Academy, coordinated a lot of the event details and did an incredible job.  The funds that were raised are all going towards our transition program and the Swanky Swine. Thank you so much to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this day a success!DSC_0075

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Our students were thrilled to participate in the event by putting together a swanky lemonade stand on hole 14.  This was a great opportunity for us to showcase our store and allowed the golfers to interact with the students they were helping.

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At the beginning of the day, the students were a bit nervous; however, they quickly became more confident as they interacted with the golfers. Everyone was so nice and so impressed with their customer service skills.   We may have received more tips than actual sales!!

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In addition to water balls, our menu for the day included several types of fresh fruit lemonade including strawberry lime, watermelon and blueberry. We also had Arnold Palmers of course!

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We received a lot of compliments on the drinks but the most popular item by far were our baked goods.  On the Thursday and Friday before the tournament our students baked their hearts out.

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We had bacon brownies and our signature pink pig cookies.  After trying our cookies, one golfer even returned to the hole to buy three more bags! By the end of the day we didn’t have to encourage anyone to stop.  One of the last carts told us, “We’ve been hearing about these cookies all day and have been looking forward to trying them!”  The kids were so proud that everyone loved something they had made.

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Other than the fact that it was a bit windy, the weather was perfect and it was a wonderful day.We would have a group of 4 golfers come through every 10 or 15 minutes.  The employees are used to serving 100 people in 30-40 minutes so they enjoyed the slower pace of the tournament.  We had plenty of time to enjoy the weather and take some fun pictures!

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Don’t worry, we didn’t actually let Dimitri drive 🙂 He did get a chance to hit a ball in the longest drive contest though thanks to a generous golfer who let him use his club.

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There were even some of our regular customers from the school at the tournament. They were happy to see their favorite store along the course.

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It was such a great day and a wonderful chance for the students to show off everything they have learned this year.  We hope this is the first of many opportunities for our store. We are thankful for everyone who has come alongside of us and bought into our vision.  We can’t wait to see what is in store for the future.

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Our Newest Employee

16 Apr

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This week our store is closed for our school wide standardized testing.  However, in the midst of our number two pencils and scantran forms we wanted to take a minute to introduce our newest staff member, Victoria.  Victoria is 18 years old.  She is the first new person our staff has had the opportunity to train.  On Friday, during Victoria’s first shift,  each employee took turns describing their jobs and sharing tips on being a good employee. It was great to listen to them share all they have learned including words of wisdom like these:

“Sometimes the customers order too fast but you can ask them nicely to slow down”

and “When you get stressed out, the best thing to do is to take a deep breath and calm down.”

Welcome Victoria! We are so glad to have you on our team!

A shift at the Swanky Swine

5 Feb

The Swanky Swine is Woodlawn Community Academy’s school store. We were established to help our students learn to make change. However, we hope that the change we make goes far beyond coins! We are open every week on Wednesdays and Fridays during lunch.  On the days we aren’t open,  the student employees of the Swanky Swine, practice adding purchases and making change, memorize prices, calculate inventory and profits,  learn what it takes to be a good employee, and study basic business terms.

This week, our employees made and decorated cupcakes to sell to our customers. They were strawberry and chocolate in honor of Valentines Day!

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Here is what our drink table looks like when it’s all set up.  We always decorate with piggy banks since this is where our store name comes from.  The pink drink is our signature “Swanky Swill” that is very popular and one of our best sellers.

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This week, 2 of our girls were in charge of set up and inventory.  After setting up the table and preparing the Swanky Swill and hot chocolate, the girls count up all of our items and record them on an inventory sheet.  When the sales shift is over, they will count the items again to see how much we sold.  They record the data and then all of our employees work together to calculate our sales, our costs and our profit.

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This past Wednesday, all of our boys worked together on the sales shift.  Both the drink station and the food station have one cashier and one customer service rep.  The employees work independently greeting our customers, assisting them with their purchases and making change. They are even learning to make small talk! They do a great job.

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After the sales shift is over, 2 of the students will count down the cash and calculate our sales.  Later, 2 other students will roll coins to take to the bank. This provides good practice in coin recognition and coin counting. All of the hands on practice is really helping develop strong money math skills!

Everyone works together to clean up and wash the dishes before the shift is officially over.

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This is what a typical day looks like at the Swanky Swine. Our employees work really hard and do such a great job. We’re very proud of them!