The GEM Company:

Gender Equity in Math

With support and assistance from Commerce Bank and the United States Postal Service, and a $6,812 grant from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education, teachers and students at the Loring Flemming Elementary School in Blackwood (Camden County) will create the GEM Company, an enterprise specifically designed to meet the learning styles of female students. Through a study of mathematics and technology, this specialty gift company will produce personalized items such as greeting cards, notepads, puzzles, mouse pads, and tote bags. The GEM Company will function in an environment that supports the NJ Core Curriculum Mathematics Standards utilizing problem-based learning and cooperative groups.

This project, created by Anne Marie Clark, Melanie Freidl, Stacy Bardascino, Debra Wolf, Jeanne Ingraham, Clarice Finocchi, and Melissa LaMarra, all teachers in the district, will address the needs of 100 girls in grades three, four, and five. On a volunteer basis, girls will devote one hour before school once a week for ten weeks each in the fall and spring. Using a digital camera, scanner, and selected software applications, students will design and produce their merchandise. Completed products will be marketed and sold through venues including the school store, book fair, mail order, and holiday bazaar.

To help prepare students for the financial aspects of running a company, Commerce Bank will provide a seminar on fiscal fitness and financial management followed by a mock game show designed to test students? learning. To help students prepare for the mail order portion of the project, the United States Postal Service will provide a workshop on weights and measurements used for shipping packages via the USPS.

All monies raised will be deposited in a bank and each girl will become a shareholder in the GEM Company. A share of the profits will be distributed to each girl as a credit towards the purchase of a GEM product. Students will learn the necessary bookkeeping skills and will use spreadsheets to track their financial success. Parental involvement will include the supervision of students as they sell merchandise at book fairs, bazaars, and the school store.

Teachers overseeing the grant will present a workshop to school staff throughout the district. Areas of emphasis will include the GEM Company?s progress, gender inequities of the traditional mathematics classroom, and how the GEM Company promotes a favorable learning environment for female students.

Once established, the GEM Company will sustain itself through the profits generated. Commerce Bank and the USPS will continue to advise the GEM Company, and the parents of the participants have pledged to support efforts in the future.

The school district has pledged a $4,050 in-kind contribution to support the project.

This project was awarded the Dolores T. Corona Grant for Mathematics. Corona, a math teacher for 14 years in Union Township (Union County), was a member of the NJEA Government Relations Division staff for 30 years, and served as division Director from Feb. 1985 until her retirement in Feb. 2002.

For further information, contact:

Anne Marie Clark
(856) 784-9205