JA H.S. Heroes Teach Financial Literacy

Lower School students learn about money from Atlantis juniors and seniors through Junior Achievement High School Heroes program

For years, Atlantis has opened its doors to Junior Achievement (JA) volunteers who come in to teach life skills lessons to our students. But this year, the program at Atlantis looked different than it has in the past. Instead of volunteers from the South Coast community, we had volunteers from our very own Atlantis community at the front of the classroom.

14 juniors and seniors participated in the JA High School Heroes program. They were assigned to Kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms to teach five lessons over a two-week period.

Before stepping into the classroom, students received training from Junior Achievement on its leadership curriculum and communication soft skills. They received a bag of materials, including a lesson plan, and then prepared their lessons on topics such as earning money at home, how to save money to buy something they want, and how to differentiate a want versus a need – which is a hard concept for five and six-year-olds to understand.

Students in Ms. Furtado’s Kindergarten class give their High School Heroes a gift to thank them for lessons on money!

“They were a little confused by wants versus needs,” said Atlantis junior Zoey Ramos. “We gave students stickers to place in the column of wants or needs. They all put the sticker showing a computer in the needs column, so we had to go back and make sure they understood the difference between wants and needs.”

“This experience taught me to think on my toes,” said Atlantis junior Caitlynn Cabral. “We had a plan to teach the lesson one way, but at times we could see that the students just weren’t getting it, so we had to think quickly to come up with a way to explain it so they would understand.”

The students worked in groups of two or three, and there was always a teacher in the classroom to assist them if needed.

The program is intended to help high school students develop leadership, presentation, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. It was open to students in any of Atlantis’s Career Academies. They do not have to pursue a career in education.

“It was really great to see the students take charge,” said Kindergarten teacher Katelyn Furtado. “They came prepared with the lessons and they were really engaging. My students loved when they came. It was a wonderful experience, I think, for both the high school students and also for the kindergartners as well.”

Furtado says she was impressed by how well the students worked together. The high school students were prepared for their lessons. They used vocabulary cards, supplied by JA, to help underscore the lessons. Furtado says this was especially beneficial in her classroom because there are many English language learners.

“We put a lot of time and effort we put into our lessons,” said Cabral. “I hope the kids see that and understand what we taught them will benefit them in the future.”

“My favorite part of the experience was getting to know the little kids,” said Ramos. “I loved getting to see how they interact with each other, how happy they are to see new faces, and the respect they give you, listening with calm bodies and following directions.”

To learn more about JA High School Heroes, visit https://jausa.ja.org/programs/ja-high-school-heroes.

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