TROY -- Troy City Schools sixth-grade students have been getting glimpses into their possible futures for the past month -- and they learned that while it may not always be easy being an adult, it can be rewarding.
That’s the idea behind “Real Money. Real World.” a program developed by The Ohio State University Extension Office and coordinated locally through Van Cleve’s partnerships with Edison State Community College, The Troy Foundation and fellow business partners. For the past four weeks, all of the students at the Van Cleve Sixth Grade Building have been participating in this simulation, which allows them to make life choices and get a taste of the real world.
"It's hard being an adult," Van Cleve student Kellen Nichols said.
Van Cleve students have participated in weekly lessons in which they were given an occupation, monthly income, credit card debt and even children. The goal of “Real Money. Real World.” is to help students realize their career choice, the education required for a career and potential lifestyle all are related.
The curriculum is developed by The Ohio State University Extension Office. Demetria Woods is Van Cleve’s OSU Extension office liaison for this program. A grant from The Troy Foundation provided resources throughout the duration of the project. The enrollment advisors from Edison State Community College came to Van Cleve to help teach the first three portions of the classroom lessons at Van Cleve.
“This project is important because it teaches the value of education, not just college education,” said Van Cleve guidance counselor JoLynn Scalice, who helped organize the program along with other school faculty members. Scalice emphasized the entire program is a collaborative effort among staff members. “Many of the careers, which are randomly assigned to students, have post-secondary education, br it technical school or police academy.
“With that, students see that having some sort of higher education results in a higher salary. This also gets students thinking about how choices they make today affect their life in the future. Whether it be starting to save money, or taking math and science more seriously in order to have a chance at getting into an engineering program in school, students start looking at life a little differently now.”
The program culminated Nov. 22 with a field trip to Edison State Community College, where every student was faced with the task of creating a budget for themselves based on their assigned career path and monthly earnings.
School officials and the local program coordinators invited business partners, staff members from Troy City Schools and Edison State Community College to volunteer at “spending booths.” The booths provided various services, such as: banking, groceries, transportation, child care and utilities.
With their monthly “paychecks” in hand, students were required to visit each booth to purchase goods and services. Those who spent wisely had money left over at the end of the month; students who earned lower salaries or made expensive purchases barely broke even or may even have gone bankrupt. For those who couldn’t make ends meet, there was a Financial Advice booth, where advice and options are offered.
“I finished with over $3,000 left. This is fun," sixth-grader Cameron Watern said.
It’s all just make-believe, but Scalice said it sends a serious message to students.
“A lot of students have big ideas about buying a fancy car or big houses, but they really can’t afford it,” she said. “Going through ‘Real Money. Real World.’ and seeing for themselves how expensive life can be makes a big impact with the students. They also must visit the ‘Chance’ booth, where life deals them something unexpected. It could be good, like winning free groceries, or bad, such as having to buy new tires for the car.
“It is interesting to see students so excited when they purchase a new Dodge Viper from Mr. Erwin, but then go to Koverman Dickerson Insurance and realize they can’t afford the insurance on their new car, so back to the dealership they go to trade in for a more affordable vehicle.”
During their time on campus, students also attended breakout sessions to learn about career opportunities and educational programs that Edison offers.
“This is actually so fun,” Van Cleve student A.J. Hurd said.
This was the 13th year for the program. More than 75 volunteers from the community, Edison State Community Community College, Troy City Schools business partners and Troy City School employees help during the simulation and breakout sessions at Edison. Specific companies who supported the event were: Matt Eriwn, Erwin Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram; Koverman, Staley, Dickerson Insurance; Baird Funeral Home; Ulbrich’s Hometown Market; The Future Begins Today and AVI Food Services.