This year marks the class’s first time returning to BizTown since 2019 due to pandemic restrictions in both 2020 and 2021
Woodland Middle School’s sixth graders worked as customer service representatives, store managers, and even CEOs when they attended JA BizTown, the culmination of their financial literacy class where students take part in a day-long visit to a simulated town developed by the Junior Achievement program.
This year marks the class’s first time returning to BizTown since 2019 due to pandemic restrictions in both 2020 and 2021. For Robin Uhlenkott, the Woodland Middle School teacher who teaches financial literacy, attending BizTown in person provides pivotal learning experiences for her students. “Physically going to BizTown is everything since it’s a chance for students to use some of the skills we learn in class in a hands-on ‘real’ way,” she said. “The students were all so excited to go on a field trip since this was our first visit to BizTown in 2-1/2 years.”
Key to making the whole day work smoothly is the close partnership between Woodland Public Schools and the dedicated parents and guardians who support the program. Around 20 parent volunteers joined the students at BizTown to help and provide guidance during the day. “We’re so excited to have volunteers back in our schools,” said Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley. “Our dedicated parents make field trips like these possible, and we are so grateful to have such a supportive community of everything we do here to help our students experience new ways of learning.”
Prior to the field trip to BizTown, students learn about a variety of different key subjects when it comes to personal finance and citizenship in Uhlenkott’s class, including the differences between debit cards and credit cards; how to balance a checkbook; and studying how interest rates and compounding interest affects loans and investments.
While the key elements of BizTown remain the same year to year, the companies change. “For example, BizMart has become Wal-Mart because the company sponsored the change,” explained Uhlenkott. “Also, BizTown added direct deposit for students’ second paycheck meaning they don’t have to visit the bank unless they want to withdraw ‘cash’ from their virtual accounts.”
For Uhlenkott, teaching students how to understand their finances remains a top priority for preparing students for life after graduation. “I hope my class provides students with a better understanding of all the elements that go into managing personal finances such as investing; credit and debit cards; services offered by banks and credit unions; the importance of insurance; and how to pay taxes,” she said. “I believe my students will use at least some of what they learn to help them make wise money decisions in the future.”
For community members who would like to volunteer and for local businesses who would like to sponsor a “store” at BizTown, you can learn more about the Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington’s JA BizTown program, visit their website: https://jaorswwa.org/ja-biztown.
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community, by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland School District.
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