Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (JA) and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) are teaming up again this year, expanding the Learning Journey experience to include 5,000 MPS 5th-graders. The partnership, new for the 2014-2015 school year, allows MPS students to experience life as an adult in JA BizTown, housed at the JA Kohl’s Education Center.
JA BizTown educates students about real-life responsibilities by giving them the opportunity to manage a simulated town and work at one of 15 businesses within the town, including operating a bank, restaurant, city hall or newspaper. This simulation enhances lessons that students learn in their social studies classes, including the concepts of free enterprise and how the economy functions in society.
MPS 5th grade social studies teachers attend a curriculum training session before their students can visit JA BizTown. The Learning Journey experience is designed to connect standard classroom instruction with real-world learning opportunities. This school year, 211 teachers are expected to participate.
“The JA BizTown program provides MPS students with a realistic opportunity to experience how basic economic concepts are used in the real world. By participating in JA BizTown, our students experience the responsibilities and opportunities of citizenship in a free enterprise system,” Dr. Darienne Driver, JA and MPS superintendent, said.
Community volunteers also play a crucial role in JA BizTown. Volunteers, including members of the community and parents of students, serve as professional role models and help students manage their businesses during the simulation. Over 1,000 volunteers will help facilitate the JA BizTown Learning Journey this year.
Although the MPS-JA BizTown Learning Journey is new to MPS 5th-graders, last year JA reached more than 166,000 students in Wisconsin through its programs—over 100,000 of whom were in elementary school.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve all 5th grade MPS students through the JA BizTown Learning Journey. With the help of our community volunteers, we are equipping these students with the skills and confidence they need to become successful economic citizens in our community,” said Tim Greinert, president of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. “It is our hope that we ignite their passion for a particular career or industry.”
Dr. Driver hosted a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 at the JA Kohl’s Education Center at 11111 W. Liberty Drive, Milwaukee, to discuss the new MPS Learning Journey further.