Walmart grant helps Woodland Middle School students learn financial literacy

Robin Uhlenkott started teaching financial literacy as part of the school’s Personal Finance and Citizenship class started in 2018

WOODLAND — Woodland’s local Walmart awarded a $1,250 grant to help fund Woodland’s sixth graders’ annual field trip to JA BizTown, where students put financial literacy and business skills to work as customer service representatives, store managers, and even CEOs during a day-long visit to a simulated town developed by the Junior Achievement program.

“'By learning about finance at a younger age, students will be better-prepared to manage their own finances when they graduate and begin their careers,' said Robin Uhlenkott, a teacher at Woodland Middle School. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
“’By learning about finance at a younger age, students will be better-prepared to manage their own finances when they graduate and begin their careers,’ said Robin Uhlenkott, a teacher at Woodland Middle School. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

Woodland’s local Walmart partnered with Woodland Middle School after Robin Uhlenkott, Financial Literacy teacher for Woodland Middle School, applied for a grant from the Walmart Foundation. 

“Thanks to our local Walmart’s generosity, the grant will substantially reduce the cost to take our students to this valuable learning experience,” said Uhlenkott. “I truly appreciate how supportive Woodland’s local businesses have been of their local schools by funding educational opportunities like this.”

Uhlenkott started teaching financial literacy as part of the school’s Personal Finance and Citizenship class started in 2018. 

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching personal finance as part of the social studies curriculum,” she said. “This class was a perfect fit for me and prioritizes topics our students really need to learn to prepare for life after graduation.” 

Students learn about credit and debit cards; the effect of interest rates on loans and savings; how to balance checkbooks; and much more throughout the semester. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Students learn about credit and debit cards; the effect of interest rates on loans and savings; how to balance checkbooks; and much more throughout the semester. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

Class topics include learning the differences between debit cards and credit cards; how to balance a checkbook; studying how interest rates affect the cost of loans; the value of compounding interest on investments; and many more.

During one lesson, students used a transaction register to track the income and expenses of a fictional young woman after she earned money on her job and went out with some friends. At each store, restaurant and activity students identified transactions as deposits or withdrawals; payments or debits; and tracked fees as well as loans owed to her friends.

Robin Uhlenkott teaches financial literacy during Woodland Middle School's Personal Finance and Citizenship class started in 2018. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Robin Uhlenkott teaches financial literacy during Woodland Middle School’s Personal Finance and Citizenship class started in 2018. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

Students discussed the differences between credit and debit cards including identifying which ones affect a holder’s credit score, which charge interest, and how tracking transactions differs depending on the type of payment used. Students also learned the risks involved with overdrafting a checking account as well as the different fees and fines charged by both banks and credit companies.

With new technologies enabling payments made by mobile phone and over the Internet, along with a variety of other new financial instruments entering the economy all the time, Uhlenkott believes students need to start learning about finances as soon as possible. 

“Some parents aren’t comfortable talking with their children about how to take care of their finances, so learning how to manage a constantly-changing economy can be extremely powerful for students,” she explained. “By learning about finance at a younger age, students will be better-prepared to manage their own finances when they graduate and begin their careers.”

Following weeks of in-class lessons, sixth graders visit Junior Achievement’s JA BizTown to practice their knowledge in a simulated real-world environment. The JA BizTown uses an 8,500 square-foot replica of an American city to create a one-day economic simulation. Students learn how to be a citizen, how an economy works, how to apply for a job and how to run a successful business. 

Woodland's local Walmart awarded a grant to help pay for Robin Uhlenkott's sixth grade classes to attend JA BizTown where they put financial literacy & business skills to the test (Pictured: 2018 Field Trip). Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
Woodland’s local Walmart awarded a grant to help pay for Robin Uhlenkott’s sixth grade classes to attend JA BizTown where they put financial literacy & business skills to the test (Pictured: 2018 Field Trip). Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

“Last year was the first time we took students to BizTown and the experience was absolutely great,” said Uhlenkott. “The kids loved it and really enjoyed using everything they learn in class in a practical way, plus the field trip gives us a framework to prepare and introduce new curriculum.”

The grant from Walmart helps alleviate a significant portion of the costs for the field trip experience. 

“The Walmart Foundation’s generosity helps provide our students with a key learning experience that will help them ingrain their lessons for the rest of their lives,” said Uhlenkott. “I am so grateful for our local Walmart’s willingness to give back to Woodland’s schools and helping our students learn financial literacy.”

More information about the Walmart Foundation:

The Walmart Foundation utilizes financial contributions, in-kind donations and volunteerism to provide opportunities for individuals in the community. Their four main areas of focus include: education; workforce development/economic opportunity; environmental sustainability; and health and wellness. For more information, visit www.walmartstores.com.

More information about Junior Achievement BizTown:

To learn more about the Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington’s JA BizTown program, visit their website: https://jaorswwa.org/ja-biztown.

Interested in volunteering or supporting your Woodland Public Schools?

Businesses and community members interested in supporting Woodland Public Schools can find out more by visiting the district website at www.woodlandschools.org or by contacting the district office at (360) 841-2700.

Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.

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