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With care and planning, students make cents

This summer, 72 children got a head start learning money management skills.
“The earlier students learn how to manage money, the better,” said Jean Lowery, the director of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church’s summer enrichment program
“This is an enrichment program, not a camp,” Lowery clarified.
Based on the academic needs of the students, she selects an educational theme for the summer program each year. This year, Lowery decided to focus on money management, to strengthen the students’ math skills, and Aesop’s Fables, for reading. “These children can’t go all summer without math and reading,” she said. “Children lose a lot over the summer.”
Lowery recruits teacher’s assistants and retired teachers to teach the summer enrichment classes. She gives them the theme, and then they come up with a creative and developmentally appropriate way to present the material. “I didn’t tell them how to do it. They just did it,” she said. “We have some creative teachers here.”
This summer, students learned to differentiate between wants and needs, and strengthened their addition and subtraction skills as well in their study of money. Lowery said it’s critical that the children have fun — a goal she feels was accomplished this summer. “They didn’t even know they were learning,” she said.
Tuesday, the students put on a performance and presentation of everything they’ve learned this summer for their families. The kindergartners kicked off the program with a poem explaining the values of different coins in the American currency system.
The first-graders explained how they learned about saving money. At the beginning of the program, they were given play money to save throughout the summer, and at the end, they were able to buy prizes with the money they saved. The second-graders learned the value of paper money, as well as why and how to save money and different ways to earn money.
The third-grade students learned about financial exchanges. They had to work to earn money and kept a transaction log to keep track of all their earnings and bills. They learned about banking, deposits and writing checks, and were fined or given bonuses based on behavior.
The fourth-graders opened their own business and wrote their own fable. They created rubber band jewelry for their “Homemade Rubber Band Jewelry Store” and sold their product after the closing program. “We all brainstormed together,” said fourth-grader Varnelle Dorley, adding they decided to sell jewelry because it was easy to make and in style. By their calculations, if they sold all the jewelry, they would have a total profit of $31.75. Dorley said earning money is “fun and exciting.”
The fifth- and sixth-graders practiced their addition, subtraction and multiplication by balancing personal accounts over the course of the summer. They, too, started their own business — a lemonade stand — and sold lemonade and cookies at the closing program.
The enrichment program isn’t just about learning and hard work, though. Throughout the summer, the students went bowling, played at local parks, visited the library and went to the movies. Lowery said the remaining week and a half of the program is “all play.”
Students attend the summer enrichment program, which is in its ninth year, for eight weeks throughout the summer. Tuition is $160 per student, and $140 for each additional child per family. The program is open to children from all Rowan-Salisbury schools, but is focused on students who attend Title I schools.
“All the parents want the kids to come here because they learn more,” Lowery said. Last year more than 80 children attended last year, but Lowery capped enrollment at 72 this year. “When you get too many, you don’t accomplish as much,” she said.

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