Jim Haywood is peeling the backing off a T-shirt transfer, but he discovers that the vinyl cutter cut the inside border as well as the outside border of the Ramp Armor logo, making the transfer unusable.
“That is disappointing,” said Haywood, a Brookfield High School teacher. “I gotta go fix that.”
Brookfield Maker Space coordinator George Lesnansky said he hopes that soon it will be students making such mistakes.
“He costs us money by using material that we now have to throw away, so that becomes cost and (cuts
into) profit,” Lesnansky said of the lesson a mistake such as Haywood’s would teach students. “It’s real.
They get a chance to see that.”
Ramp Armor makes skate ramp surfaces and has hired Brookfield to manufacture promotional materials
such as banners, T-shirts and stickers. The company appeared at Tampa Am, an amateur skating
contest, in October, and wanted 200 shirts and other items to give away. It was up to Brookfield schools to
The contract with Ramp Armor is part of the “commercialization” of the Maker Space, said Ron Emery, a
Trumbull County consultant who connected Ramp Armor to the school.
Right now, Haywood is doing the work.
“The end game here is, once we get these kids a couple of assignments and things like that under their wing, they’re gonna know how to do everything that you’re watching me do right here,” Haywood said.
At that point, the Ramp Armor contract becomes largely a student-run enterprise, he said.
“It’s about creating a business model where they have to be responsible for taking the order,
understanding what the requirements are, pulling it all together, producing a good product, shipping a
good product, and making sure they fill it in a timely basis,” said Emery, of Alchemy Associates. “It’s all
the things that you would teach in a business class combined into one with actual experience so, when
these students come out, they have a very well-rounded and practical understanding of a business startup,
or what’s required from an entrepreneurial standpoint.”
“Students get involved with the reality of what it is to be involved in business,” Lesnansky said. “It gives
them a real-world experience as opposed to a simulation. It’s greater pressure for us, because now we
have to produce product for a commercial client, but it certainly adds to what we can do, it adds to the
experience that they have because they see this now no longer as made up.”
Emery learned about Brookfield’s Maker Space from Mario Furillo, a Brookfield student, who, while
working as a barista at the Market House in Howland, overheard Emery talking to other entrepreneurs.
Furillo explained that he was in the entrepreneurship class at Brookfield, and asked if he could have his
teacher, Haywood, and principal, Kristen Foster, give Emery a call, Emery said.
After meeting with Supt. Toby Gibson and seeing the Maker Space, Emery’s thoughts were not only about
fulfilling Ramp Armor’s need, but also furthering the aims of school officials to give students real-world
projects, he said.
“Being an entrepreneur myself,” Emery said, “I would rather teach them how to do it and teach them how
to support it and make it successful, because I think I can easily do that, provided they’re willing to listen.
To be honest with you, it’s good for the community.”
The money the Maker Space earns from outside contracts pays for the supplies the school needs to keep
the Maker Space operational, Haywood said.
“I don’t know that the people in Brookfield fully appreciate this, but there are so many good things
happening at Brookfield schools that are not happening at other schools,” said Emery, of Niles. “It’s nice
to have progressive leadership at the school.