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JUNIOR FINANCES: Volunteers Teach Life Lesson

Teachers are expected to cover so much information about a variety of topics during the school day. A growing number are relying on help from an outside source to teach a life skills lesson.

Nick Wagner stands in front of class saying, “Today we’re going to learn about other businesses.” The topic for this class is news business, but the third graders at Crossroads Park Elementary in West Des Moines have also learned about taxes. Tatum Bartlett says, “It’s where you have to pay a bill of things that you buy, like a house or something.”

They also learned about saving. Nolan Van Waus says, “A lot of times I save it up for college. And, I want to get something, but my mom wants me to save it up for college.”

And they talked about money in general. Luke Hawkins says, “Money is really helpful in towns to keep buildings up and running and for people to know what to do and what to spend.”

Wagner is sharing the life lessons, but he isn’t the students’ teacher. He says, “I’m in sales for a mechanical and electrical contractor.”

He’s a volunteer for Junior Achievement of Central Iowa. He leads five 45 minute classes about community workers, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. JA Board Member Marvin Debner says, “Basically what we do is financial education for K-12, but most of our efforts are in K-6 elementary schools.”

Junior Achievement trains and provides materials to volunteers. The curriculum is goes along with The Iowa Core standards and supplements what teachers are already doing. Teacher Jenny Gustafson says, “It’s nice to have someone else come in and teach something. And, the kids really enjoy it.”

Junior Achievement reaches more than 30,000 students in 27 counties in Iowa. They have about 2,000 volunteers helping and more are always needed. The organization still needs volunteers for forty classes this school year. No experience is required, only a desire to help kids. Wagner says, “They get so many different courses from the teachers, but then to have a different life skill come in. And, the earlier you can get kids to learn about financial literacy and their city and how important it is, the better.”

It’s a lesson the kids are learning. Nolan says, “I have a bank. I put my money in a bank and I save money.”

Tatum says, “We have to save it and we have to make sure we don’t waste too much.”

The folks at Junior Achievement say parents can start the conversation at home simply by talking about wants and needs and the bills the family has to pay.

Click here for more information about volunteering.



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