Sitting with their regular table group, Gloria Sweeney’s first graders Kyla Karella, Jace Applehans and Cobe Hodge were doing some out-of-the-ordinary activities Friday morning.
Along with their classmates, the three students were engrossed in the coloring activity before them. Vibrant cake designs took up the page in front of them for an activity aimed at teaching how to create a business product during the second annual Junior Achievement in a Day event held at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary. Junior Achievement Peninsula Chair Janet Johnson said the program has also been taught at Nikiski North Star Elementary and Soldotna Elementary School. The program is implemented through Junior Achievement of Alaska, which is part of the national organization.
“It is a very well written program for the financial side of life,” Johnson said.
Sweeney’s students, and other selected classes took a daylong version of the traditional course that can take weeks to teach depending on the grade said Communities Program Manager Amarin Ellis.
Junior Achievement is taught in kindergarten through twelfth grade, and the curriculum is catered to match, Ellis said. The higher the grade level, the more intensive the work becomes, she said.
The program “is in alignment with Common Core State Standards and Alaska State Standards, and (teaches) information that is not already in the curriculum,” Ellis said. “If it doesn’t align with state standards its hard to get into that classroom.”
Karella also learned how to help the classes volunteer, Monica Frost, carry out driving directions Friday.
Amy Favretto, who works for Alaska Communications, has volunteered to teach for two years in kindergarten classrooms.
“They get so excited to see you and think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread,” Favretto said with a laugh.
The program helps bridge the gap between the business community and schools, Favretto said. In the classroom she helps her students learn to count and handle currency, which will eventually translate into understanding the invaluable skill of what to spend a paycheck on, she said.
The course is free to the schools, but local committees assist the organization by holding fundraisers and secure donations from local sponsors, Johnson said. Anyone can volunteer, including seniors in high school who can earn volunteer credit, parents, teachers, friends and business owners, Ellis said. Training takes about 30 minutes to an hour, followed by supplemental online materials.
“It teaches financial literacy, economic education and workforce readiness,” Ellis said. “It teaches them to be responsible, law abiding citizens.”
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