Lake Waccamaw, NC – The students were exceptionally quiet in the classroom of Thomas Academy Academic Coordinator Sharon Jones as they worked on their current assignment.
“They are fully engaged with the game,” Jones explained with a smile.
The Interactive Budget Game supplements the class’ traditional look at economics and personal finance. Topics covered in the course include generosity, income and earnings, budgeting, savings goals, emergency funds, credit, debt, investing and quality of life among others.
“The class is about understanding the tools to help us make the right decisions of when and where to spend our money,” Jones said. “When we make the right decisions, you’re managing your money. But, wrong choices with money, can lead to your money problems managing you.”
The aspect of financial choices is key in the game which simulates a 12 month period, with the class expanding it to 24 months to give students a better experience.
“We are playing this life simulated game as full time students with a part time job,” Jones said. “We are required to pay rent, cell phone bills, internet, car payments, insurance, credit cards and groceries. They experience choices in the game where they can pick up extra hours at work, socialize with friends, do household chores, or study. So in addition to financial literacy, we are providing them with an understanding of life balance.”
Jones is playing the game with the students for the first time and has challenged the students to be more successful than she is.
“We want students to be comfortable with making decisions with personal finances and what they choose to do with their money,” Jones said. We cover everything from the importance of a credit score to how to write a check to learning how to verify that you are paid what is owed to you on your paycheck. The players are paid weekly within the game and the hours fluctuate so we have to pay attention.”
Jones is truly excited about what this course means for the students.
“Our course has the power to change the trajectory of the students’ futures,” she said. “Economics and personal finance are the subjects that are not only relative to the students’ lives in the future, but these are also lessons they can learn and put into practice right now.
“In the future, we hope to have some spin offs from this class like Entrepreneurship and Career Development to offer as an elective for the students.”
Chief Academic Officer and Principal George Ward believes this course is representative of the educational experience at Thomas Academy.
“Our goal as educators is to truly provide students with an experience that will empower them throughout their lives,” said Ward. “Financial literacy and lessons on quality of life are principles that can be applied both now and far into the future for all of our students.”
About Thomas Academy
Thomas Academy is a North Carolina Public Charter School that educates middle and high school students. Located in Lake Waccamaw, the academy provides a tailored academic experience to students who are oftentimes in need of a more specialized, integrated curriculum. Thomas Academy was founded on personalization in education, unique offerings and educating through purposeful design. Enrollment is open to any student in grades six through 12.