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Students Explore How Financial Literacy, Work Readiness, and Entrepreneurship Play Out in Real Life

Pigeon Forge, Tenn. – They are not old enough to drive, work, date, or be the boss. But when Seymour Intermediate students came to JA BizTown™ on May 22 & 23, the more than two hundred fifth graders had the opportunity to run banks, manage restaurants, read utility meters, write checks, and even vote. This opportunity was funded through a sponsorship from SmartBank, headquartered in Sevier County. Billy Carroll, President and CEO, of SmartBank has long been involved with the initiative to bring Sevier County Schools to JA BizTown™.

“An opportunity like JA BizTown™ gives our young people real-world experiences where they get to make business and spending decisions,” said Carroll. “It is a one-of-a-kind learning experience that showcases what being a successful adult can be like.  SmartBank is proud to support our community by investing in kids this way.” JA BizTown™, located at 2135 N. Charles G. Seivers Blvd. in Clinton, Tenn. combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to the JA BizTown™ facility. It is a fully interactive, true-to-life, simulated town where students learn the fundamental relationship between academics and life beyond school.

“Walking around JA BizTown™ writing checks, applying for bank loans, and assuming the role of a CEO, CFO, or radio station d.j. may feel like fun and games for the students,” said Callie Archer, Junior Achievement President. “But the fact is JA BizTown™ puts the game of life into serious context for kids by helping them connect the dots between what they learn in school and how financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship – the economics of life – play out in the real world.”

The JA BizTown™ program begins with a series of in-class lessons that encompasses financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship while providing a strong focus on social studies, reading, writing, and mathematics skills. Students learn the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as well as the circular flow of goods, services, and resources in an economy. Through a series of critical thinking exercises, they realize that resources are often scarce and learn the important distinction between wants and needs. They come head-to-head with taxes as they learn how the government administers tax dollars to support public goods and services.

But for students to fully understand how all these concepts play out in the real world, especially when they visit JA BizTown™, they are asked to think from two perspectives: that of the consumer and that of the businessperson. As consumers, they receive a paycheck, a debit card and a checkbook, and must balance their checkbook register while making deposits and writing checks to purchase items. They also handle JA BizTown™ cash and, hopefully, make good decisions with their money. As businesspeople, they are responsible for managing staff, working as a team, accounting for business expenses, and juggling their professional and personal responsibilities.  Through the JA BizTown™ experience, students quickly see how success in the workplace means showing up on time and getting along with other people. And for those playing the role of a business owner, the challenge is to pay their business expenses and still take in enough money to make a profit.

“We’re extremely grateful for SmartBank’s support of the JA BizTown™ program and for recognizing the importance of financial literacy learning opportunities for students in Sevier County,” said Archer.


About Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, Inc.
Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, Inc. is dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students in grades K-12. Junior Achievement offers educational programs that focus on seven key content areas: business, citizenship, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics/character, financial literacy, and career development. For more information, visit jaeasttennessee.org.

About SmartBank:SmartBank is a full-service commercial bank founded in 2007, with 29 branches spanning Tennessee, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. Recruiting the best people, delivering exceptional client service, strategic branching and a disciplined approach to lending have contributed to SmartBank’s success.  For more information on SmartBank, visit www.smartbank.com.