WELLSBURG — Children at Brooke Intermediate South have been earning a little “play” money but they are quite serious about what they do with it.
David Klick, senior vice president at WesBanco Bank, said he and Brian Tennant, assistant vice president, have visited the school a couple of times each year to talk to third and fourth graders there about saving wisely and using credit cards with caution.
The presentations are among money education programs conducted in various schools in partnership with WesBanco and other financial institutions.
But Klick said he has been impressed by how Principal Scott Donohew and David Secrist, a teacher at the school, have taken educating the children about money a few steps further.
Donohew said the youth receive “Dojo” dollars for various forms of good behavior.
Secrist explained Dojo is a computer program used by the school to encourage positive behavior and parent involvement.
The children may spend the “cash” at a school store stocked with toys, clothes and other items purchased through school fundraisers or donated by community members, also not an uncommon approach in today’s schools.
But the youth also may set aside their funds in “checking accounts” they have opened at the school.
Donohew noted each child completes an application requesting his or her address or phone number, information they should know in the event of an emergency.
He added they make deposits to their accounts with the help of teachers doubling as tellers; and receive regular bank statements while being encouraged to watch that their purchases don’t exceed their balance.
Secrist said as with stores outside the school, purchases include tax.
“It’s a way to teach them that if something is priced $20, it will cost more than that,” he said, adding he also explains, “Tax is how government pays for things like schools and police and fire departments.”
Klick noted that in addition to buying goods at the school store, the pupils may use their money to pay admission to school events, encouraging them to plan ahead.
Donohew added the store is staffed by pupils who first underwent a job interview with him.
Candidates for the positions are encouraged to prepare in advance, said the principal, who recalled one boy dressing up for the occasion in a desire to make a good impression.
Klick said “I was there while interviews were being conducted in a very professional manner.”
Donohew confirmed he approaches them quite seriously.
“The interviews are only about seven minutes but it may seem longer to them,” he said.
Donohew said the goal is not to make the children uncomfortable but to help them to be more at ease when they participate in the real thing years later.
Donohew said he’s tried to fill jobs at the store with at least two children from each homeroom.
Of the program, he said, “I think it teaches life skills that kids often don’t get.”