The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 20, 2013

Junior Achievement celebrates Financial Literacy Month

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Jennifer Spaude, a volunteer with Junior Achievement for many years, remembers how much fun she had teaching the program’s second-grade curriculum.

The objective: doughnut production (cardboard doughnuts, that is). The class was split, with some students individually making doughnuts. Others worked in an assembly line fashion with each student in charge of a task.

The idea was to gauge which means resulted in the quickest production and best quality doughnuts.

“It’s just a neat experience,” Spaude said.

Spaude has led students in grades K through 5 in similarly “neat” experiences as she’s taught curriculum for Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization aimed at preparing young people to succeed in the global economy. The seven key content areas addressed are: business, citizenship, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics/character, financial literacy and career development.

Volunteers — including parents, grandparents, business leaders and others — make five visits to a classroom in which a teacher has requested the curriculum be taught. Each grade level has curriculum tailored to the children’s age group.

Spaude, director of investor relations and marketing at HickoryTech, has been volunteering to teach in her children’s classes, following them through the grade levels and gaining lots of experience with a variety of Junior Achievement lessons.

“It’s that conceptual learning with hands-on learning, really making the experience real for students,” Spaude.

April is Financial Literacy month, which Junior Achievement district manager Jaci Siebenaler said is the perfect time to spread the word about the program. Siebenaler said what makes the curriculum so effective is the hands-on, experiential learning for kids.

A good example of that is the third-grade lesson Spaude was teaching at Monroe Elementary School recently. The students got a chance to learn what a city planner does, including lessons on zoning and how to read blueprints, by setting up a 3D cardboard city.

“They had the opportunity to color the buildings and set up this cardboard town,” Spaude said. “They’re being city planners in the third grade.”

High school lessons are more sophisticated with students taking part in simulated experiences such as running a manufacturing company in the year 2035.

About 220 local volunteers take part in the program, going into both public and private schools and teaching more than 6,200 students.

 

To volunteer with Junior Achievement, call Jaci Siebenaler at 387-9609 or email jsiebenaler@jaum.org.