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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Students look grown up, practice life skills at Enterprise Village

This school year has just flown by. I can't believe summer is here already. My oldest daughter is graduating from fifth grade this year. A milestone in school, as next year she will be in middle school. It seems like just the other day she was in kindergarten. I bet some of you are thinking the same thing as your child is graduating from pre-k, elementary, middle, high school or college.

As part of the fifth grade curriculum, the kids get to go on an all day field trip to Enterprise Village. It is located in the Stavros Institute in Largo. Enterprise Village has been around since the 1980's and is a self-contained economic education program providing a hands-on learning experience for students. The kids spend 6 weeks in their classroom learning economics including how to write checks, use a debit card, keep a checkbook register, apply for a job and work with a group. When students go to Enterprise Village they put what they learned into action.

I was a parent volunteer. As a volunteer, we had to go for about an hour of training before the students arrived so we could help them throughout the day. What was interesting is some of the parent volunteers had gone through the program in school when they were in fifth grade.
I was amazed at the whole operation and impressed by the students at how serious they took their jobs. The layout of Enterprise Village is like a shopping mall. There are about twenty plus businesses in the village. Some of the businesses included: Home Shopping Network, Tampa Bay Times, McDonalds, Bright House networks, UPS, City Hall, Bank of America, Salvador Dali Art Center, Waste Management, Pinellas County Utilities and United Giving.

The students had to apply for their jobs in school before coming to Enterprise Village, so they knew where they would be working. My daughter was so excited because she was one of the disc jockeys for Mix 100.7. As a disc jockey she played the music throughout the day for everyone at Enterprise Village and announced commercials for all the businesses. The commercials were written ahead of time at school by the students who worked at each business. She also took song requests from students and played their songs. The students took 3 breaks throughout the day, received paychecks and had the opportunity to be consumers and make purchases at the other businesses.

Students were able to see that it took several people working together to run a company. The students were given Enterprise Village money for working and could spend it at the stores. They had to deposit their pay checks at the bank. I think that was the moment I knew my little girl was all grown up. When I looked across the room and saw her with her purse in hand standing in line to deposit her check. My heart sank, as I thought to myself how mature she had become.

After the kids deposited their checks they could purchase items at stores that sold merchandise. The kids each had a lunch break where they received lunch at McDonalds. Each student had a job, some were gathering stories as reporters for the Tampa Bay Times, others were reading meters for the power company, others delivering packages for UPS, there were television anchors on the Bright House station, some students were live on television selling items for the Home Shopping Network. One of the students was even Mayor of the city. The day was a great learning experience for the kids to understand what it is like to be a part of society. They even had to give money to charity.

At the end of the day, students working at the Tampa Bay Times put out a newspapers full of stories from the students and from the interviews the reporters did that day. This was truly amazing to me to see a six page paper full of stories completed in one school day. They did a wonderful job! The newspapers were sold for $.25 and most students saved money to purchase the paper.

Overall the kids learned a lot and most said it was their best day ever. Teachers also said it is one of their favorite field trips for the kids because of all the skills the students learned and they were able to put them to use.

The Stavros Institute also offers a program similar to this for high school students called Finance Park. I look forward to my daughter going on that field trip. If you want to learn more about Enterprise Village or Finance Park or maybe you want to volunteer,  log onto their website by clicking here. 

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