Junior Achievement at PCMS 2019
Junior Achievement helps students get real about money and planning
During a game relating to personal finances some students had lost their job due to circumstances beyond their control, while others were let go because of poor performance. Regardless of the cause, suddenly students were confronted with some serious questions — how were they going to pay their bills? Adding insult to injury, the unfortunate students also lost points in the game they were playing due to the nature of suddenly being without a jo
The game was just one of several exercises students worked on during the annual visit by the Junior Achievement of New York to Port Chester Middle School. The purpose of the visit was to get students to think about their relationship with money and how to develop a positive one.
Junior Achievement works to teach students economic success, Catherine Danyko-Sage, director of the organizations’ Lower Hudson Valley Operations, said.
When the JA visits PCMS, the group brings a team of volunteers from PepsiCo. Each team member has been trained by the JA to work with students on lessons pertaining to finances. The lessons are taught in a fun manner, usually through games and hands-on activities that share economic realities with the students and solutions to financial issues they may face later on in life.
“It’s really critical,” Ms. Danyko-Sage said of teaching this information to students. There is no requirement that students are taught financial strategies in school, and the JA works to ensure students are equipped for their financial futures, she said.
“They learn to budget, save and how to earn money,” Ms. Danyko-Sage said.
Teacher Felicia Knox’s normal science lab had been transformed into a bank of sorts as PepsiCo volunteers Laura Oller and Robert Prendergast worked with a group of sixth-graders.
Among the lessons the two shared is how a financial blow, such as a job loss, can be a temporary situation. They used real-life examples of business owners who made a come-back after a financial setback.
One such example was about Westchester County business owner Tom Carvel, founder of Carvel Ice Cream. He traveled throughout the county selling his ice cream out of a truck. When his truck broke down in Hartsdale, he was able to obtain permission from a local business owner to sell his ice cream in the parking lot before it all melted. The customers enjoyed the softer ice cream, and Mr. Carvel returned to the spot the next day. The truck breaking down and ensuing emergency sales served as inspiration for transforming his business to one that only sold soft-serve ice cream in a storefront.
The volunteers also did an exercise with students to review the differences and benefits between a debit card and a credit card. Working in small groups, students were given a list of transactions and students had to decide which card would be best to use.
“Each card is a financial liability,” Ms. Oller said. “It is a financial tool.”
Ms. Oller said when she was in school she learned about bank accounts, but it was nothing like the broader curriculum provided by Junior Achievement.
“It’s much more pertinent to students today and getting them to think ahead of where they want to go with their lives, what they want to do and how they want to handle money,” Ms. Oller said. “I think it’s great, practical experience for them.”
“The children are so appreciative, they learn quickly and the material we go through with them, they have fun,” added Mr. Prendergast.