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High School Heroes Teach Financial Literacy

Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.


Students Tiffany Aracena and Tanya Denis worked together to teach first graders the difference between a need and a want during last week’s lesson, the second of five lessons that will take place throughout the semester.  


“A need is food and shelter, and a want is something that you might want as extra, like a pet or a toy,” explained Denis.


Before the lesson, some of the students did not understand the difference between a need and a want. “A lot of them said that they needed a dog, or a car, or a toy,” said Aracena. “At the end of the activity, the students were able to understand the difference between a want and a need.”


Junior Achievement classmate, Gaugy Auguste and two other classmates taught the same lesson to a separate classroom of first graders.


“We taught the kids about money and how it can be used for both needs and wants,” said Auguste.


The first week of the High School Heroes program, students taught the first graders about family and neighbors. “We taught them the importance of a neighborhood, what neighbors do and what they could do to contribute to their neighborhood,” said Aracena.


Johnson says that the younger kids love to be taught by the older students.


“The first time my students go into the classroom, they’re a little hesitant. By the end of the program, they love it, and so do the little kids,” said Johnson.


By the end of the program, Johnson expects her students to become more confident public speakers. “They’re going to be more confident explaining things to people,” she said. “When they go out into the world and college or for their first career-oriented job, they’ll be more confident.”


Although it’s only been the second week of the High School Heroes program, her students are already becoming more comfortable.


Aracena never used to like talking to people, but speaking in front of the younger kids has allowed her to improve her public speaking skills. “I learned how to take control,” she said. “It gets easier after each week.”


Auguste also learned the importance of public speaking. “I learned how to enunciate my words and project myself so the kids could hear me and understand me more,” he said.


“The kids sounded like they were enticed by what we taught them,” said Auguste. “We are like role models to them so they soaked in what we actually had to say.”