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count yourself lucky

if you are fortunate enough to live in a school district that

does Junior Achievement/ Biz town.

basically…it’s kids learning facts affecting finances, money,

economy, businesses and how it all relates to the real world.

from about the time of kindergarten all the way through their 5th grade year they do

a unit once a year

It is a program that relies on area businesses and parent volunteers

to fund and volunteer in making the town work.

and boy — does it WORK!


                          photo courtesy of jennifer lucas

speaking of work— at the end of 5th grade the big finale begins with

 the students going through an interview process for a job they are interested in applying for.

jobs can range from Mayor, snack shop worker, CEO, meter man,

flight attendant…you NAME it…the list is very long and specific.

my son chose DJ.

he was so thrilled he got his 1st choice of being a DJ given his

love of music. I was thrilled he got to do something so fun and out of the box for him.

He’s a very responsible type of kid usually so this was a welcomed break.


It had a cartoony feeling which made it fun but the actual business had actual

useful equipment which made it more realistic.

The kids walking in…they were so excited! They couldn’t have dreamt up a place more fun.

as a volunteer for the day, i was assigned a shop– my “job” was at Centerpoint Energy

Let me tell you…this is NOT a play date. NOT by far.

Here’s a glimpse of how it all works— take the centerpoint shop for example…

Every business is given a “Loan” from the bank to pay off before they can actually make a profit.

in our case, we were a utility company so the kids first took inventory as they passed out “supplies”

to the other businesses.

they then had a meter reader who would go to each business and check an ACTUAL meter where

he would write down the units of energy used.

THEN he has to return to the shop– enter the units used.

through the magic of networked computers and stuff i don’t know or want to know

that data is compiled into an invoice that is sent to the print shop (all over networked programs).

The print shop delivers the invoices to the businesses

where at each individual business– the CFO enters the invoice so that an check is made out

(through the print shop again) to the center point.

The CFO deposits the check into yet another laptop with networked program

which puts the money into the company’s account.

Unfortunately, as in the real world, the money does not go very far.

centerpoint like the other shops are still responsible for paying OUT many funds

including but not limited to: employee wages, web design fees, advertisement fees, rent,

taxes, lots of not so fun stuff.

it’s not wonder being an adult is not very fun.

the kids get a taste of this when they see how fast money goes out and slow it comes in.

in the mean time they have fun trying to keep their heads above water.

i can’t tell you the joy in  seeing them work together- sometimes in a panic – but together


another joy….just seeing them in their little worlds and how far

they’ve come growing up. You have understand.

like many other parents, i’ve seen these sweethearts grow up from kindergarten– which is basically

half their lives.

onto the radio station…where their “product” is music and advertisements.

what fun he had as the dj.

he got to choose the music, make announcements, and just step into another world.

and if you get too tired of your job- you an always take a vacation.

need groceries? no prob. everything is in stock.

maceo’s best friend….the judge! now that sounds like a stuffy kind of job unless

you’re this guy who made the best laws which included “you must dance as you pass by the radio station”

and you must say “happy cinch de mayo” if you see the cop…

he had a great judicious and commanding presence about him.

next up insurance and lots of “jakes” running things.

another cutie radio station employee getting info from the area businesses.

the cop on the beat.

flight crew

sports store for your sporting needs

now and then there was a break for messages and announcements from CEO’s

and officials.

back to work at the AIG shop

no lay offs at the Schlumberger branch!

bank was crazy busy but handled it like pro’s.

definitely the cutest IRS agent i’ve seen.

each crew took a lunch break in which they

had 30 min to eat, deposit their checks at the bank (sorry no direct deposit here), and go shopping.

city hall, radio station, and insurance guys eating together networking i guess…

a funny pic considering the only thing in focus here

is the sign:

“money doesn’t grow on trees”.

exactly the point.

just like real life, the kids have to run errands during

their lunch break. this line wasn’t bad at all

but there were times the line was VERY long.

balancing his checkbook so he could go shopping for important stuff like

gummy worms  and a pet rock at the nature store.

and he’s back at work….

what a super fun day for these kiddos who

have had to grow up so fast in the age of

way too much pressure and responsibility in elementary.

It did my heart good to see kids be KIDS and get to play

dress up for prob the last time

and all in the name of learning about how money flows in and out

(mostly out).

i can’t wait to see who you all really become kiddos!

here’s a little sample of