TALLMADGE -- Fiscal fitness is as important a goal as physical fitness in today's schools.

In recognition of that fact, Junior Achievement, the non-profit youth organization which promotes financial literacy and entrepreneurship, came to Tallmadge schools recently for "JA in a Day"; the event featured hands-on activities where youngsters could apply what they learned in the classroom to real life situations.

Junior Achievement has different programs available to children from kindergarten through high school. At Munroe Elementary on April 13, second-graders were taught a series of prepared lessons by Tallmadge High students ranging from sophomores to seniors.

The focus of the lesson, called "JA Our City," was to introduce students to concepts like currency, taxes and economic development and to identify different zones. Hannah Moore, a district manager for Junior Achievement, says the program "introduces students to the intersection of financial literacy and third-grade social studies."

Tallmadge High School teacher Kim Brendel says this is the third time students in her finance and business management classes taught economics to third-graders. "I strongly feel that this endeavor is rewarding to both my 'big' kids, the high schoolers, and the young[sters]," Brendel says.

"My students always seem to come away from this interaction very happy -- they feel like they've made a positive difference which makes them feel both valued and important."

At Dunbar Primary School on April 20, the entire student body participated in Junior Achievement programs. Volunteers included employees from KeyBank across Summit County and the Tallmadge-based Steere Enterprises.

Kindergarteners heard the program "JA Ourselves," which focused on monetary choices and financial needs and wants. First-graders were introduced to family members' jobs and the difference between a need and want through the JA program "JA Our Families."

Through the "Our Community" program, second-graders developed a sense of career awareness and how all jobs help a community. The simulated production of Sweet O Doughnuts gave the children first-hand experience in assembly-line production and notions like quality control and taxation.

"Real life lessons from real life community members" is what Junior Achievement is all about, Moore reports. Based on her own experience working as a financial professional, Brendel says she knows early personal finance instruction is essential for all children to better secure a financially trouble free life.

"We need to start educating young people as early as possible," Brendel says, adding that JA programs build "a foundation for additional learning in the future."

"Junior Achievement is a great program for engaging the community with the schools," Katie Howard of Steere Enterprises, says. "Whether it's in the elementary schools or the high school, I have seen the impact we have made on the students.

"It's an amazing feeling seeing how excited the students get to see us when we walk into the room. It's such a valuable program and I hope more people can volunteer their time to help out more classrooms."

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9419

Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC