FORT WAYNE — Students from Whitko’s 5th-grade classes at Pierceton Elementary and Whitko Jr/Sr High School’s business class visited Junior Achievement’s BizTown and Finance Park on Friday, Dec. 6.
Previous to 2019, Junior Achievement’s offices were located near Glenbrook Mall behind Kohl’s. After a recent campaign, they have a new location specifically designed to their needs at 550 East Wallen Road, Fort Wayne, said a news release from Whitko Community Schools.
Danielle Tuck, Development Coordinator for Junior Achievement was kind enough to supply a tour of the new facility while students enjoyed the ongoing economy simulations nearby.
“I believe JA BizTown is an important education partner for Whitko Community Schools because it gives students the hands-on experience of working with money and a taste of what it is like to be an adult,” said Tuck. “It really brings to life the concepts of personal finances and working as part of a community that they learn in the classroom before they arrive.”
Michelle Bradley and the WJSHS business class pursued various activities throughout JA’s Finance Park. Each student received a brand new iPad to keep track of their day. Included on the iPad was software specifically formatted to fit the financial exercise. The goal was to enlighten students to help them better understand both the scope and direction of their futures.
“At Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, we define our purpose as partnering role models with students to give them a greater belief in their abilities and the inspiration to turn dreams into reality,” Tuck said.
She does this by giving kids the knowledge needed to manage their finances and career readiness, she said.
Finance Park was lined with touch screen monitors. Students were encouraged to take an impromptu personality quiz. Based on their responses, they were given possible career paths. They could see how the education and career path they choose could net a specific salary. The information could help students seek jobs that may be available or in high demand when they enter the workforce.
Parents may try the quiz through the link provided here: https://jacareerdiscovery.jani.org/
5th-grade students participated in a micro-economy, on a large scale at JA BizTown. Students from Pierceton Elementary pretended to go to work, earn a paycheck and make decisions regard to spending, savings, employee and time management. Each student earned their job for the day by participating in a job interview conducted by their teachers.
Ample opportunities were available to earn money. Students made purchases during student scheduled break periods. The breaks were given in three groupings. A large overhead display and read if they were to be working or on a break. After earning their paychecks, each student visited one of two banks available to deposit their checks. After each student notarized their check, they could spend available funds by using a real debit card.
Some students acted as CEO’s, CFO’s and business owners to keep pace with the economic exercise. They used directions found on their personalized iPads. Similar to the senior high students, elementary students who were low-level workers also had iPads at their disposal. It established a hierarchy of leadership and job perks; similar to a real work environment. The analogy taught that while sometimes the right tech helps workers complete a job or task.
“Seeing the kids in action at JA BizTown really is the best way to understand the impact of the program,” Tuck said. ”The enthusiasm students have for doing their jobs well, for spending their money with intention, and for making their business a success in the JA BizTown community is a wonderful thing to watch.”