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Author Ty Allan Jackson Visits Lee Elementary School's Danny Dollar Entrepreneur Fair, based on Jackson's books.
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The fifth-grade class also received a second book from Jackson.
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Book character Danny Dollar is a big hit with the kids.
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Lee Elementary School Holds Entrepreneur Fair

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Fifth-grade students created potential businesses based on their interests. The entrepreneur fair is an outgrowth of author Ty Allan Jackson's 'Danny Dollar' series that teaches children financial literacy. 
LEE, Mass. — Hundreds of students gathered last week in the Lee Elementary School cafeteria for its first-ever entrepreneur fair. 
Over the last two months, the school's fifth graders have been introduced to financial literacy and developed their own businesses based on their interests. 
The students kicked off this endeavor toward the end of April, Financial Literacy Month, with the reading of Ty Allan Jackson's first book, "Danny Dollar,"  which he wrote while living in Pittsfield. The book's description says it teaches kids "about finance, banking, investing, and entrepreneurship in a fun and relatable way." 
The entrepreneur and author is the founder of the Danny Dollar Entrepreneur Fair, a program that teaches children life and financial literacy skills in collaboration with schools. 
Jackson and his buddy "Danny Dollar" flew in from California to admire the students' hard work. The kids flocked around Danny, giving him high-fives and hugs as they proudly showed him what they had developed. The students also received a free copy of Jackson's second book, "Make Your Own Money." 
As part of the program, the entrepreneur fair provides the schools with a template that includes its concept and curriculum. The teachers then cater that curriculum to the school's needs, Jackson said. 
"We really don't give them a lot of guidance. We kind of give them the format, and then we let them run with it," he said.
"It was interesting because the students learned that you have to spend money to make money, so they talked about how to get that money, pay it back, and get investors,"  ELA and math teacher Michele Puleri said.
"So there was really a lot of learning of financial literacy in general that happened, in addition to creating a business."
The first part of Puleri's English language arts class was spent on normal curriculum while the second part was spent reading the book and working on their projects.
When the students first started this journey, they struggled with where to start, Puleri said. During Jackson's Zoom kick-off, he told them to "Dream big, Think big," and they had a hard time with that. 
Over the course of these couple of months, Puleri has seen a lot of collaboration and discussions between students. 
"This is probably, in 25-plus years of teaching, one of the best projects that I've seen. This is what kids remember, this is what could spark a passion for somebody later in life, and this is what gets them motivated to want to come to school, and that's what it's all about," she said. 
What the students learned during this program will "transcend through them for the rest of their lives," Jackson said. It gives them confidence and self-esteem and teaches them important life lessons. 
It also showcases to the adult community that these kids are very capable of doing what they need to do. Often, people undersell what kids are capable of and overlook that they can do things that are considered to be only in the adult realm, Jackson said. 
The idea to bring the program to Lee Elementary School stemmed from physical education teacher Jen Carlino, who asked whether the fifth-graders would be interested in participating in the fair, Puleri said. 
She said school staff had met Jackson several years ago when the parent-teacher organization purchased the fifth grade a set of "Danny Dollar" books and from his involvement on the board of Greylock Federal Credit Union's Banzai Financial Literacy Program. 
"Part of our strategic plan in the district is to introduce students to some type of financial literacy early on in their years to plant that seed, give them some background knowledge," Puleri said. 
"So, [Jackson's] view for the program is to get kids to think about their future, but to act now." 
It teaches students to ask themselves. what can they do now as they think about their future, what businesses can they start now, and how could they make that a reality," she said. 
The entrepreneur fair takes the premise of the "familiar" science fair but substitutes science with entrepreneurship so kids can demonstrate their ideas for businesses, Jackson said 
"What's great is that some kids actually already have businesses, which is really mind-blowing," 
This fair plants a seed in the students who have never thought about starting a business and lets them know that just because they are kids, it does not mean they can't start thinking about their future and focusing on the things they want to do now, Jackson said. 
"All kids have been asked at some point, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' This program is about what do you want to do now," Jackson said. 
"And if they have the skill set or the idea to be able to create their own business from their own skill set, then this is just a huge catalyst for bringing it to life." 
Jackson started this program in Pittsfield three years ago with about 200 students. Since then it has evolved to reach 3,000 students across the county in California, Mississippi, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida, Jackson said. 
Not all of the students will walk away and become entrepreneurs, but all of them will walk away with an entrepreneurial mindset, he said. 
They will leave thinking about perseverance, teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, self-reliance, and all the aspects that it takes to become an entrepreneur and to manage money, Jackson said. 
The Smile Like Jack Memorial Fund sponsored the fair. The Fund was established in May 2022 in honor of Jack William O'Brien, who died at age 20 in a snowmobile accident. 
When they were asked by Carlino to support the fair, it was an immediate yes, Smile Like Jack Memorial Fund Board Member Star O'Brien said. 
The mission of the program reminded them of how Jack was when he was younger, she said. 
He was a hard worker from a very young age. At 13, he started a lawn mowing business, and when he got his license, he was able to mow more lawns and start plowing driveways. Then, at the age of 19, he built a house, O'Brien said. 
When he passed, they founded the Smile Like Jack Memorial Fund to honor his legacy and help others in their community.  
"It's a good initiative to let these kids know that they can accomplish anything. If they put their mind to it and they work hard, they'll be able to accomplish anything," O'Brien said. 
Save a little bit, and have fun, but the big thing is they need to know anything is possible at any age, she said. 
Students from the Pittsfield Public School showed off their projects last week at Berkshire Community College. 

Tags: entrepreneurs,   financial planning,   Lee schools,   

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PIttsfield 16s Fall in Babe Ruth Regional Final Sports
AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Norwalk, Conn., Babe Ruth 16-year-old All-Stars Tuesday beat Pittsfield, 2-0, in the championship game of the New England Regional.
It marked the second shutout loss to the Connecticut State Champions in three days for Pittsfield. But it was a very different game this time around.
On Sunday, Norwalk beat Pittsfield, 10-0, in six innings to wrap up pool play.
That forced Pittsfield to win two straight games to get a rematch in the finals, and it did so, blanking Lyndon, Vt., on Monday and edging Eastern Mass Champion Lynn on Tuesday morning.
But in the title game, Norwalk pitcher Jaxon Ermo held Pittsfield to four hits and allowed two walks while striking out six in a complete-game shutout win.
For Pittsfield, Connor Paronto and Sam Glockner split time on the mound, striking out three.
But Norwalk generated 10 hits and scored a run in the second and a run in the sixth to give Ermo the offensive support he needed.
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