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Board member Gary Feagin back in the classroom to lead trade lesson

Gary Feagin watches as a team of seventh-graders calculates the mythical profit from their sale of T-shirts.

      Seventh-graders in Todd Hoovler’s social studies honors class competed Tuesday morning to see which group of three could make the most profit on the production and sale of 1,000 mythical T-shirts – all without leaving their desks or computer screens.

      The exercise was part of a trade specialization discussion led by Gary Feagin, the owner of a local insurance agency and a member of the Mansfield City Schools Board of Education.

      Feagin met with Hoovler’s class half a dozen times this fall to help lead students on the Junior Achievement Global Marketplace curriculum. He has worked with Hoovler’s classes several times over the years, including last February.

      Tuesday’s discussion centered on the importance of global trade.

      “I get such excellent responses from this class. They are engaged,” Feagin said. “I am pumped when I leave here. They create such enthusiasm in me.”

      The class learned the definition of specialization is “a process in which businesses and people focus on producing one or a few parts of an entire product.”

      They also learned that interdependence “is when businesses or people rely on each other for certain resources, products or services.”

      Feagin asked if one person could create a motion picture. The class quickly agreed that it requires many people – producers, a director, actors, costume designers and a host of others.

      “Can they grow oranges in Alaska?” Feagin asked.

      Several students said no, but others said it would be possible in a controlled environment, such as a greenhouse.

      “But would it be more profitable to grow oranges like that or bring them in from Florida?” Feagin asked.

      Students acknowledged that it would be cheaper for Alaska to import oranges.

      “What could Alaska trade for them?” Feagin asked.

      “Fish. Cod fish,” some said.

      Hoovler said the Global Marketplace curriculum and Feagin’s experience and perspective as a business owner add an extra dimension to the class’s study.

      “We have been studying trading, which is buying or selling goods and services. Today it’s about the benefits of trade specialization,” he said.

      The class ended with the computer-based exercise of producing and selling 1,000 T-shirts. Seven teams of three students each used the Global Marketplace site on their computers to decide where they should buy the materials for their shirts – foreign or domestic markets -- and where to have them produced. 

      The winning team concluded they could produce each shirt for 79 cents and generate a profit of $9,020 on the sale of 1,000.

      The two teams with the lowest profit margin said it would cost them $1.16 to produce each shirt.

      Feagin cautioned that the quality of the shirts would determine what retail outlets would agree to sell them.

      “It could be Nordstrom or Macy’s or Walmart,” he said.

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