GREENVILLE— Thanks to some seed money from a grant through the Greenville Area Community Foundation, Greenville Public School students are learning about economics and civics in a new way.
The grant allowed the school district to partner with Junior Achievement (JA), an organization committed to helping students become financially literate and economically knowledgeable to prepare them for life beyond school.
“Junior Achievement is an opportunity to have businessmen and women from the community come in and teach the lessons to our students,” said Chief Academics Officer Michelle Blaszczynski. “Our students really look forward to JA day. It’s an opportunity for them to learn from folks who are doing this firsthand.”
During Monday’s meeting of the Greenville Board of Education, two representatives from JA spoke to the board and audience members about the competition: Director of Development Missy Summers and Program Manager Amanda Hentsch.
On March 1, students involved with JA went to compete at the JA Titan Business Challenge at Davenport University, where they were tested by an online business strategy simulation program. Cathy Deane, a business education teacher at the high school, accompanied the students.
“These kids were able to learn about what business industry would look like and they were able to do some marketing,” Blaszczynski said. “They were able to determine price points on products…decide about some payroll items…and then they had to come with a bottom line to compete with other teams.”
Over the last four years, since the first grant was issued for the program for students at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, other grant funding has come in to offer JA classes to other students throughout the district at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.
According to Summers, 70 people from the Greenville community have volunteered their time to work with 1,477 students over the course of almost 8,000 hours.
Summers said JA classes are centered around financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work-readiness. The organization was founded in 1919.
As an example of the kinds of things students do in JA classes, Summers told the audience about the way second grade students are introduced to the concept of manufacturing and the different elements that come together in manufacturing.
“They actually have to manufacture donuts and they have to decorate them and make sure they’re done correctly or they might not get past quality control. They learn assembly line function on that,” she said. “And they have to come to the conclusion on the fastest way to get that done.”
Calendar and bond update
Blaszczynski discussed the draft of next year’s academic calendar with the school board. She said there is one more professional development day for staff members and two more full days of instruction for students.
Spring break for students will be a bit delayed next year with the draft configured the way it is now. It is slated to be in the first week of April in order to ensure students are receiving instructional time before the spring testing window.
According to Superintendent Linda Van Houten, a waiver was granted by the state for the Greenville school district to start before Labor Day. The waiver covers the next three years.
Van Houten reported on the bond proposal update. She talked about the opportunity students have gotten recently to try out some different types of furniture in the classroom. Students will then provide their feedback about what they liked and what they didn’t like.
Van Houten is readying for upcoming community meetings to inform people about the bond proposal and to take questions. Meeting dates are noon March 20 and 6:30 p.m. April 13. Both of those meetings will take place the Central Services building at 1414 W. Chase St.
The bond vote is scheduled for May 2.