Experiencing Economics: Valley Crossing students put their skills to the test at BizTown
It's not every day that you see a fourth grade student wearing business attire and talking about W-2s and health insurance, but that's exactly what the students at Valley Crossing Community School are doing as part of their study of economics. For one half day, students assume the roles of adults and run BizTown, a kid-sized city within Junior Achievement headquarters in Maplewood. From the construction company to the local radio station JABT to town hall, every student has a job at one of 15 businesses and goes through the motions of earning a paycheck and making purchases with their own supply of artificial money in the form of cash, checks and even debit cards.
But this was not just a one-day field trip. Over two months of instruction on financial literacy, job readiness and business management went into the preparation for the day at BizTown. Students prepared resumes, filled out a job application and completed interviews before they learned what their job for the day would be at BizTown. Surprisingly, being the mayor or a CEO were not nearly as sought after as being the newspaper photographer!
As the mayor of BizTown, student Ila Nimerfro had a very busy day enforcing the laws and making sure everyone was having a good time. “It’s definitely all about working together as a community,” she says. “But it’s also important to get through all of the financial aspects [loans, taxes, paychecks].”
According to the teachers, it isn't really until the students experience BizTown that the lessons from the past months really start to click. And the experience, which brings the idea of hands-on learning to the next level, is definitely one of the highlights of the year. Valley Crossing 4th-6th grade students have participated every other year in the program for over ten years.
Northeast Metro 916 is one of three intermediate school districts in Minnesota, serving approximately 4,000 students through shared programming that includes career and technical education, special education services, area learning centers and elementary education.