What better way to teach 2nd-graders about taxes than by showing them first-hand the community members directly impacted? A special day event crafted from Junior Achievement's 2nd-grade program called "Our Community" students learn about different careers, how money moves through the community and why people pay taxes. The lessons from the most recent day (October 2018) then culminated in an interactive tax simulation with Comptroller Peter Franchot, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, School Superintendent Lou Taylor, Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore, Police Captain Ray Austin, incoming Worcester County State's Attorney-Elect Kris Heiser, Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck and OCES Principal Dawn Rogers.
One focus of Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is to identify workforce gaps in businesses and industries in our local community. Junior Achievement then teams up with the schools to create a hands-on, experiential curriculum; engaging the business community to create a pipeline of future employees. The Ag Day program consists of five in-classroom lessons about resources and entrepreneurship for 4th-graders. The sixth activity is an expo-style event featuring local business owners, each with their own interactive exhibit. The purpose of the expo is to show students all the different facets of the agriculture industry.
Finance Park is a Junior Achievement capstone program aimed at increasing financial literacy in students. JA Finance Park can happen two ways: either visit a physical location (which involves taking students on a field trip across the bridge or to Northern Delaware) or via a virtual simulation on a computer in the classroom. To begin the simulation, students are randomly assigned life scenario. Some are 36-year-old landscapers with a spouse and two kids making $40,000 a year and others were single 25-year-old architects making $90,000 a year. Some will have credit card or education debt and some have poor credit scores. All of these factors impact the students' ability to obtain a mortgage or car loan. The simulation is also less than forgiving, throwing some students a curveball like a flat tire that they are required to fix. The goal of the simulation is for students to understand budgeting and the importance of saving. Students first have to make a budget and set savings goals. After budgeting, they get to shop and put pencil to paper. Students have to purchase or rent a home, buy a car, pay for utilities, purchase car and health insurance. And, just like in the real world, all of these costs are impacted by the size of their family, the size of the house they picked, and the car they purchased. Maybe they thought $500 a month was realistic for their mortgage payment but after shopping realized they can't buy that huge two-story house they wanted for so little. They then have to go back and adjust their budget. It starts to really click in their minds that unnecessary expenses like buying clothing and eating out can add up quickly.
With this event, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore seeks to inspire the future workforce to explore in-demand career opportunities. In our first year, we'll impact more than 1,000 teens in Wicomico County, educators, and community members as students map out a plan for future success. Not all students receive career mentorship at home. JA Inspire offers students the opportunity to learn about careers from caring mentors in time to plan their high school coursework. For businesses, this is a chance to build your future workforce through experiential and hands-on learning.