Columbia Public School's Junior Achievement Programs Receive Grant

7 years 8 months 13 hours ago Monday, April 11 2011 Apr 11, 2011 Monday, April 11, 2011 12:18:00 PM CDT April 11, 2011 in News
By: Victoria Craig

COLUMBIA - Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer made an appearance at Rock Bridge Elementary School Monday morning. Luetkemeyer helped State Farm present a check for $12,000 to the Junior Achievement Program of Mississippi Valley, which includes Columbia Public Schools.

The program is designed to help students grades kindergarten through 12th grade learn about their community by giving them hands-on experience. For six weeks during the school year, a representative from the program comes to the classroom to teach the children about financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. The donated money will be used to help more than 1,200 students in Columbia and connect them with community role models.

Deb Diller, a fifth grade teacher at Rock Bridge Elementary School, says the Junior Achievement helps students relate what they're learning in class, to how life will be and work outside of the classroom.

"(The kids) are thinking about, if they had the money, how would they really spend it," Diller said. "A lot of them are very generous if there's a charity to give to and they have some money. It's interesting to see who gives and how much they give and whether or not they want to spend their money or save."

She says the program is a benefit to her students, and they enjoy learning more about business and how their community works.

Diller takes the program one step further and has incorporated a classroom store. She says that helps her students know about financial responsibility on a deeper level. An added bonus is the students enjoy getting to buy things like pencils and candy during the school day.

"(The students) come and have to decide if 'oh, I really want that or if I just have to save my money.' So, it's neat to see if they have money, at least at a fifth grade level, how they spend it," Diller said.

This is the first year Columbia Public Schools have participated in the program, but Assistant Principal Ryan Link at Rock Bridge Elementary says the fifth graders there have been participating for several years. Link says the program has been a benefit to the students and that's one of the reasons the school expanded the program to all grade levels this year.

"At each grade level they cover some different economic concepts, and it spirals up so the kids learn one thing in first grade, then second grade it builds off that, and then in third grade and so on and so forth," Link said.

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