On April 2nd, the excitement in the air was electric. For over a month, we had been working to prepare for our field trip to JABizTown, and the day had finally arrived.
Learning the Trade
JA stands for “Junior Achievement,” which “inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy.” Before our field trip, the JABizTown curriculum taught students about checking and savings accounts, loans, business expenses, soft skills, check writing, advertising, and more. After learning the basics of economics and businesses, students wrote job applications. One of our dads, Pat Richard, did mock interviews with the students. Students were assigned JABizTown jobs based on their interests, skills, and interviews. Then, students spent a week working with the other members of their business to apply for loans, set prices, and create advertisements.
When students arrived at JABizTown, they headed to their office buildings to see their job descriptions and receive instructions from their parent volunteers. Students held a variety of jobs including the positions of CEO, CFO, mail courier, reporter, bank teller, technician, nurse, IRS agent, town marshall, and ad executive. Each student had a specific list of duties for the day that involved writing checks, paying bills, running errands, and collaborating up with other businesses. Once students had a chance to learn about their specific job assignments, they had several meetings with the JA staff, parent volunteers, and their business teams. The business CEOs also used this time to apply for loans for their businesses. At last, the town was open for business.
Our town DJ, Sam Robinson, came on the JABizTown radio and announced, “Citizens of Biztown, this is DJ Sam. JABizTown is open for business. Let’s get the morning kicked off with ‘Good Morning’ by Mandissa.” The citizens of BizTown squealed with delight and our town was in motion.
Students had rotations of work and breaks. During their breaks, students were encouraged to spend their paychecks on the goods and services offered by the other businesses to increase the circular flow of the economy. Each business worked hard to get customers so that it could pay off its business loan. At the end of the day, the student CEOs took their final deposits to the bank while the other students nervously waited to learn if they had managed to pay off their loans and make a profit. Students, parents, and teachers alike were thrilled to learn that all of our businesses not only paid off their loans but also made a healthy profit.
Students learned many valuable lessons during our field trip to JABizTown. Abbey Bolt explained, “JABizTown was amazing. It taught us to be responsible with our money. It also taught us how to write checks and do check registers.” Grace Byrn said, “At JABizTown I was the physical therapist. JA taught me not only how to write checks and deposit tickets but also encouraged me to want to work in the hospital.” Gracie Childes shared, “I learned if you are working at your job (especially if you are a CFO) you really need to be organized!”
Several of the students felt that JABizTown gave them a new appreciation for adults. Navee Pearce said, “I really got to see how hard my parents work.” Eli Pendley stated, “I liked how we got to learn how adults worked. I liked how you have friends constantly around you to help you. There was definitely a lot of interdependence.” We are thankful our fifth graders had this unforgettable opportunity to learn these life lessons about economics, teamwork, responsibility, and citizenship.