Preparing for the “real world” can be difficult, but Thedford Public Schools and other schools in Educational Services Unit 17 do their best to ensure students have a sense of what life is like. After high school.
Jamie Taylor, a business and computer science teacher at Thedford, along with other teachers in ESU District 17, began designing a program a few years ago to help students understand how to navigate life after death. graduation. The “Into to Life” program focused on real-world scenarios, life skills, and budgeting to help students understand how expensive life can be.
Taylor said the idea came about after Yutan Public Schools held an event called Game of Life, which focused on life skills. She said business professors wanted to add the budget aspect to life skills to create the most real-world scenarios possible. Due to the pandemic, it wasn’t until last March that schools were able to put the program to the test.
Taylor mentioned that with the change in Nebraska law requiring pre-graduation personal finance starting in the Class of 2023, it was important to put those lessons to the test as soon as possible. She felt that bringing second-year students into the program would be more beneficial than waiting until the kids were older and it was too late.
According to Taylor, approximately 150 students from six schools in the ESU District 17 area participated in the event, including Ainsworth, Cody-Kilgore, Keya Paha, Rock Round, Thedford and Valentine. For Thedford students, Taylor said she tried to match the jobs available through the simulation with student interests to make it as relevant as possible. Students would then go through each required station to complete their budget worksheet with the end goal of making sure every dollar was accounted for.
“A student came in and had $915 in the hole and so we said, ‘What are the things you can do because you have high-end stuff and you’re not making enough money to cover that.’ These are also good lessons to learn,” Taylor said.
To make it as realistic as possible, businesses in the area have donated their time and expertise in each area to help students on budget. Bankers, car dealerships, mobile phone companies and more attended throughout the event.
In addition to the budget portion of the event, the students completed other programs including a strength-seeking program, a car and tire program, and other life skills stations.
“Make it as relevant as possible for the kids so they see the relevance,” added Taylor.
As with any program, business faculty will work with ESU to refine the program to make it as effective as possible. Taylor noted that the group is already looking to add agricultural careers to the jobs list as well as adding a first aid station.
“We really tried to touch everything,” Taylor said. “I think we had a really good team with us business teachers and we were able to really add to that and enrich it and I think a lot of sophomores came away that day learning a lot and getting a lot of good things out of the day.”