Blue Sky: An Acton Academy is a private micro-school with 23 students located at 581 Cheryl Street in Cornwall. The school was opened in September 2021 by Sarah McCullough-Ferguson and on Saturday, November 19, 2022, they hosted their first annual Children’s Business Fair at the Benson Centre.
Sarah McCullough-Ferguson has lived all over the world but returned to Cornwall, her hometown, ten years ago. A public-school teacher for 15 years with a passion for different teaching methods, Sarah outgrew traditional teaching and wanted to open an Acton Academy to bring something completely new to our community.
“Our school is a learner driven school. Which means the students guide their learning. I am a guide here; I am no longer a teacher. I help direct them, I redirect them, I join them up with somebody else who knows how to do what they are trying to figure out,” said the founder.
It’s customary to gage interest in starting an Acton academy with a business fair, but the COVID-19 pandemic put that on hold. Once restrictions started to relax, the kids started working on their ideas to launch a business. Blue Sky students and other children ages 4-14 were welcome to participate.
“The business fair teaches hands on entrepreneurial experience. Speaking with clients and customers, making sales, answering questions about products, talking about future business interests… disappointment a little bit if somebody doesn’t buy something or their product isn’t fit for the market,” McCullough-Ferguson explained, “All lessons that entrepreneurs get but in a softer and gentler way because they’re kids, and everybody’s going to like them and buy something from them anyways.”
When they apply to take part in the business fair, the kids list how much their product costs to make, how much they hope to earn, and how they’ll know if their business was a success. The kids get to keep all the profits, and Acton gives prize money for three categories: most original business idea, highest business potential, and best presentation/creativity.
“When you start a business, you need to figure out if it is profitable at the beginning and not at the end. That’s the one thing I forgot to do,” said 11-year-old Parker Grant, who started a candle-making business.
Parker’s 9-year-old sister Kali Grant also started a business selling her paintings.
“I paint the blue sky then I draw blue clouds and I paint the sun. Then, I write positive affirmations on it, so people buy it. The largest one will be around $15 to $20 dollars and my smallest one will probably be about $2.50,” Kali told Seaway News.
Some other items available at the business fair included Christmas cards, plant-able gift tags, jewelry, cookies, rocks and minerals, Christmas decorations, dog treats, and more. One student even offered $1 lessons on how to safely hammer a nail!