BEAM sheds light on financial literacy for young students

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Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (Photo by LouRawls Burnett)

A kindergarten student at the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM) was named a grand-prize winner in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s “Save Out Loud” contest. Christopher Paige, 6, submitted a photo essay that shows how to save money.  Rosie Rios, treasurer of the United States, presented the award in a virtual video visit to Christopher’s classroom. “All of the children were happy, especially Christopher,” said his teacher, Amber Konkel. BEAM, 3620 N. 18th St., is a public charter school that opened in 2001. About 600 preK to 8th-grade students attend the school. Partnering with PNC Bank, BEAM exposes students to numbers and financial literacy, according to Konkel. Her K5 class operates on a “mini-economy” where students learn the value of money by getting paid to do homework and classroom tasks. Although they earn play money, they can buy real things with it in the classroom store, such as school supplies, movie tickets, books and toys. Classroom jobs include “travel guide” (line leader), “electrician” (the student who turns off the lights) and the “caboose” (who makes sure the door is closed and the lights are off). “I wish I would have had that type of push when I was in school,” said LaDonna Leazer, BEAM curriculum coordinator. “Here at BEAM, (students) as little as K4 are able to open up a savings account.” Leazer added that in 7th and 8th grades, students are taught about the stock market, “which is just another way we can get these students ready and more prepared for the real world.” “We believe it’s very important for students not only to be strong academically, but to understand finances and how money works so that they can participate in this global economy,” Leazer explained.

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