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Greetings from Young Ameritowne!
I’m fortunate enough to work in a place unlike any other. You could say I get to be a tourist, only the place I’m visiting has no zip code, the constituency is made up of different people every day, and businesses never have the same employees twice. Each morning the (new) mayor gives an inspirational speech to launch the work day and the workers are all encouraged to spend their entire pay checks – it’s safe to say that this isn’t your typical Towne. But then again, how many Townes exist there that are run entirely by 5th graders?
The Towne experience
The Young Americans Center for Financial Education programs are focused on educating kids on all things finance. As a programs assistant, I primarily work running AmeriTowne (YAT) and International Towne at both our Cherry Creek and Belmar locations. In YoungAmeritowne we mostly have 5th graders running our 17 shop town. They assume the roles of shop managers, accountants and workers which they apply and interview for back at school. Over the course of the day they all receive and deposit their paychecks, buy awesome toys with their hard earned money, and of course promote their products in hopes of making a profit. International Towne is for slightly older students, usually 7th or 8th grade, and they partake in a global trade simulation. Instead of shops, they represent different countries and they deal with currency exchange, passports for travel, and trade tariffs. It’s really incredible to see the work that can be done by these kids in just one short day!
When I was in 5th grade, the phrases “checkbook register,” “free-market enterprise,” and “supply and demand” would have sounded like a foreign language, but after a day in AmeriTowne all of the Towne citizens are able to explain them well. All too often (speaking from experience) people reach adulthood without ever having received lessons in personal finance. What better way to educate than promoting 11 year olds to being adults for the day?
Future “Tales for Towne” posts
Expect more blog posts about the ins and outs of AmeriTowne and International Towne as we progress into 2014, including descriptions of the different jobs kids have and details of what they actually do during their 4 hours here; spotlights on our various shop sponsors who keep Towne looking fresh; and highlights of the best Newspaper headlines and Business Goals that come through. I’m excited to bring accounts of these real-world experiences to the outside world!
Each post I will include tips from teachers for teachers. The curricula we provide for the different Townes allow for some flexibility on how the lessons can be taught. These tips are to help make things easier for both teachers and students on the day of Towne!
Teacher Tip #1: If you’re planning on having parent volunteers, consider assigning them to their shops before coming to Towne. That way, you can provide them with some background information about the shop they’ll be working in and they can have a better idea what to expect once they’re in Towne. To take it one step further, include the parents during the shop “staff meetings” so that they’re familiar with the strengths of the students who they’ll be working with in Towne which is super helpful information for their Young Americans staff person.