JA: Teaching students about their city

Third-graders in Robbijo Morgan’s class at Edison Elementary have spent the past months learning how to run a city, thanks to Junior Achievement volunteer David Bussard.

“Junior Achievement is about our city and teaching our students that it takes everybody to come together and make it better,” said Bussard, who has been volunteering to teach the Junior Achievement class for the past six or seven years.

Bussard said he visited Morgan’s classroom on five different days and went through a variety of activities.

They discussed the different government institutions and businesses in a city and the financial institutions that help them run. He discussed city hall, why people pay taxes and how the media provides information about what is going on in the city and how advertising supports the media.

“We discussed banking best practices with managing your account, whether it be a checking account, savings account, credit card, and deposits and withdrawals,” said Bussard.

Bussard said the kids enjoyed withdrawing money more than they did paying the banker.

Each of the kids was allowed to start their own “business” and given a cardboard building to represent their chosen business. Then they discussed where the businesses should be located on the large map that Bussard brought into the classroom.

“We talked about zoning and the city planner and how important that position is to develop your city,” said Bussard.

The farm went in the agricultural zone, while a construction building went into an industrial park and other businesses into the business zone.

Kids discussed what to name their businesses, how much to charge for their services and the importance of hiring the right employees.

“They learned a lot and they were very, very perceptive,” said Bussard. “The students are really incredible and they’re just very attentive, very eager to learn and very good. It will be really interesting to see how they turn out in 20 years. There were some sharp thinkers with good business minds even at that young age.”

Morgan said Bussard was a hit with the students.

“They wanted him to stay,” said Morgan. “It fits right in with our standards for social studies.”

She also said the children were aware that Bussard, the general manager of Staybridge Suites in Minot, was volunteering his time to teach the class.

“They understand what a volunteer is,” said Morgan. “They got some community awareness, which is important.”

Carla Dolan of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce is coordinator of the Junior Achievement program.

She said the program has been in public and private schools in Minot for 16 years. There are currently 160 volunteers teaching classes in 152 elementary classrooms in the area.

Dolan said there will likely be a need for more people to volunteer to teach Junior Achievement classes in the fall.