Brooklyn Lahr, a third-grade student at Kuemper Catholic Elementary School, places a movie theater inside the city she and her class built. For the last day of their JA Our City program Wednesday, students put together a city by placing its banks, movie theaters, schools and other buildings in the right areas. JA Our City is part of the Junior Achievement of Central Iowa program, which educates K-12 students on the core concepts of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. (Photos by Annie Mehl)
Brooklyn Lahr, a third-grade student at Kuemper Catholic Elementary School, places a movie theater inside the city she and her class built. For the last day of their JA Our City program Wednesday, students put together a city by placing its banks, movie theaters, schools and other buildings in the right areas. JA Our City is part of the Junior Achievement of Central Iowa program, which educates K-12 students on the core concepts of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. (Photos by Annie Mehl)

May 10, 2019

Students’ hands sprang up as Sarah Culligan scanned the room, looking for the next students to bring up their miniature bank, movie theater or hospital to place on the map of their city.

Building by building, the students designed and built their own city.

For the past five weeks, employees from Availa Bank in Carroll have been working with third-grade students at Kuemper Catholic School System to teach them about the importance of money and the effects it has on a city, different forms of payment, how businesses meet the needs and wants of citizens in the city they are in and more.

The financial literacy program is a part of JA Our City, a Junior Achievement of Central Iowa program, which educates K-12 students on the core concepts of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

Culligan, the vice president mortgage loan officer from Availa Bank, said she spent five weeks teaching students about making smart decisions with money and how their financial choices affect the cities they live in — cities like Carroll.

“The first week’s focus is on money choices — earn, spend, save and donate,” she said. “Each week, we continued to build on our lessons, including one week about spending visible money versus invisible money and another about how the cycle between producers and consumers keeps our city growing.”

Not only did the program serve as a great financial learning opportunity for the students, but Culligan said she also learned a lot from the program.

“They had so many good questions and were really attentive to the class,” she said. “I would love to continue this class next year and hopefully bring it to some additional schools in the communities we serve.”

Kuemper students Kylie Tomka and Ryan Lucas said they enjoyed spending time with members of a local bank and learning how to earn, save, spend and donate money.

“We learned about spending money wisely, and you have to save before you can spend,” Lucas said.

Jodi Ludwig, a third-grade teacher at Kuemper, said the JA Our City program ties into the school’s economic standards and inspires and prepares students to be financially successful.

There’s no one better to teach banking and financial literacy than employees from the bank,” Ludwig said. “We appreciate their willingness to participate in the JA program and partner with us.”