Friday, November 18, 2016

Employees give back to students at Junior Achievement's BizTown

On a sunny November morning, 13 We Energies employees headed to BizTown, Junior Achievement’s interactive simulated town. The volunteers helped to educate fourth- through sixth-graders from Franklin Pierce School and O.W. Holmes School, both public elementary schools in Milwaukee.

We Energies employees volunteer at Junior Achievement's 
“We wanted to help give students a good understanding of how the community works,” said Phyllis Koleske, manager – revenue and gas accounting. She has been coordinating We Energies’ involvement at Junior Achievement for the past three years.

In BizTown, students learn about personal finance, jobs and community life. We Energies employees were there for support as students held all BizTown positions including CEO, CFO, mayor, reporter, radio DJ, retail employee, bank teller and even utility worker. They were “paid” for doing their jobs and learned to deposit their paychecks at the two BizTown banks.

The students also learned about the forms of payment the businesses accepted. A scaled-down Culvers, for example, sold popcorn and soda but only accepted cash. Kohl’s and Harley-Davidson provided souvenirs and accepted credit cards, debit cards and checks. Navigating banking and forms of payment and budgeting was part of the experience.

We Energies employees were assigned to these BizTown businesses. Gloria Grabarczyk, manager – gas cost accounting, took on a new role at Biztown’s U.S. Bank. She chose to volunteer with Junior Achievement to get to work with children, “especially in an environment like this where you’re educating them about real life.” She added, “They’re looking forward to it. It’s not a matter of stopping them from talking to the other kids. … They’re into their jobs and they’re so excited.”

Jerri Nash is an office assistant at Valley Power Plant, but in BizTown she was assigned to City Hall. “I think it’s a great program,” she said, “and I appreciate the opportunity to be involved.”

A student named Kevin, who was the CFO at Chase Bank, noted his favorite part of being CFO was signing checks. Fifth graders Miracle and Antonio – both photographers for the BizTown newspaper – learned the importance of teamwork when working with the camera and the clipboard. “We take turns,” Miracle explained. “And it’s fun! We get to be adults.”

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