Program introduces financial, life skills to second-graders

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Junior Achievement is a nationwide program that teaches students from first grade through fifth grade important skills they might not learn in the classroom or at home.

"We teach everything from kindergartners learn the difference between needs and wants and second-grade curriculum goes through voting and an introduction to taxes," explained Colleen Hahn, program manager for St. Joseph County Junior Achievement. "I think what's important about JA and what our volunteers strive to do is teach students financial literacy. Maybe they've never learned how to budget, and we don't want them to fall into those traps."

The program is free for schools and utilizes local volunteers to teach students in first through fifth grade at schools throughout Michiana.

Katie Austin, a third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, went through the program when she was in school. Now, she has the chance to watch her students take the same courses that inspired her years ago.

"This time of the year is great, they're getting back from spring break and it's something to keep them excited," Austin said.

These are lessons that could inspire the next generation of Michiana residents.

"We have lots of great businesspeople in our community who had great ideas and people encouraged them along the way," Hahn said.

Skills like paying taxes, learning streets in your city and how to budget might sound like subjects that elementary students don't need to know about just yet, but research shows the earlier you expose children to a variety of topics, the more successful they'll be in the future.

Junior Achievement is looking for community members who are passionate about teaching and helping students. For more information on becoming a volunteer or to learn more about the program, click here.