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Fifth Graders Learn The Language of Finance
 By william nieman
For the second year, TD Bank employees brought a Financial Literacy program to the Fifth Graders at Bristol Elementary School (BES). The three-day event was based on TD’s suc- cessful experience of teaching Financial Literacy to new Cana- dian Citizens, immigrants, and indigenous peoples. BES Prin- cipal Linda Green, conferring with Fifth Grade teachers Janine Neggers and Dori Higgins, and Barbara Rosendahl, the Bristol TD Branch Store Manager and Financial Literacy program di- rector, once again chose Fifth Graders to participate in the program. As I would see, it was a wise choice based on the stu- dent's cognitive growth, their range of interests, and level of emotional maturity.
So, on the morning of Mon- day, February 19th, I arrived comfortably anticipating an in-person meeting with Dori Higgins, whose friendly e-mails inclined me to expect a conviv- ial greeting. Standing in the “in- take” office, I heard, behind me,
What are we going to decide?
masquerade was Dorii Higgins, made up to promote Dr. Seuss Day, which was a part of the el- ementary school’s participation in the Reading Across New- found literacy project.
After our introduction, Dori and I joined Barbara Rosendahl and her associate, Amy Dillon, in the spacious second-floor Conference Room. The stu- dents rushed in, eyeing choice seating. Amy made introduc-
On this question, the students took part in role playing. They were given play money and had to decide how much to spend and on which commodity. Here, a lot of thinking and some emo- tion were evident.
About 35 minutes into the class, Barbara stood up and told all the students to stand. Then she combined exercise with the finance topic by showing the students how to use their arms andlegstospellCREDIT. This seemingly minor digres- sion would be repeated with Ms. Neggars students, prompt- ing what I felt was an inspiring moment as this lesson came to a close. More on that later.
When it was Janine Neg- gars’s students' time to visit the Conference Room, they exhib- ited enthusiasm and work-ready focus. Janine’s presence was as comfortably evident as had been Dori’s. Her class manage- ment techniques were subtle and clearly understood by the students. It was evident she had created a predictable, safe envi- ronment for learning. Amy Dil- lon again directed questions and the discovery of the language of finance. As in Dori’s class, students were assigned personal finance documents to fill out (loan applications, monthly bud- get breakdown, etc.). Also, as I indicated earlier, as with Dori’s students, Barbara gave them the task of spelling CREDIT with arms and legs.
On February 21st, both Fifth Grades went on a short field trip to the TD Bank. There, bank
personnel Daniel Berard, Elisa Sznerch, Kassi Orturo, Mi- chelle Dyment, Emily Cogswell, and Samantha Pike joined Amy Dillon and Barbara Rosendahl to unveil the mysteries of the drive-by window, the great vault door, and the second-floor con- ference room. The bank visit emphasized the importance of personal security and privacy. Among other things, this meant discreet use of the iPhone and computer as well as an aware- ness of the potential of “fraud.”
I was a teacher, administra- tor, and coach for thirty years. For what it’s worth, I’ll share my opinion about the TD Program and the BES staff and students. Bristol and the nearby towns have the good fortune to be able to count on such well-qualified
Should I buy a gift for Mom?
people passionately dedicated to the nurturing of the area’s children. Those people and the children are the real treasure in anyone’s ledger.
Finally, let me recall how Barbara Rosendahl’s exercise ofspellingCREDITwith arms and legs turned out to be a defining moment for this old educator. Amidst the class’s en- thusiasm, a boy raised his hand to participate a couple of times during the class. I noted that a paraprofessional or Ms. Neggers would come to the boy when this happened and would whis- per a question to help him focus on the subject. So, it occurred to me that although this young- ster was cognitively at grade level, he needed to integrate so- cial cues. At any rate, his hand was raised again, and this time, he was determined to speak. He stood up and acted out Barbara Rosendahl’s body spelling of C R E D I T. He enunciated each letter with a shout and a smile. His classmates responded with applause. This was no small ac- complishment. He had stayed on task. He had participated. He experienced recognition and success. He felt proud. This was possible because of his accep- tance of a nurturing environ- ment for all students and his own growing self-confidence. At the time they occur, we are often not aware of how moments, good or bad, can shape our lives. My guess is this body spelling event was not only a special moment for me but quite possibly a sem- inal moment in this child’s life.
I want to express my gratitude to the BES staff and students, as well as the TD Personnel, who welcomed me into their world of promise and hope.
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the friendly voice I expected, asking, “Bill Nieman?” To my surprise, I turned to respond and encountered a character from the Dr. Seuss story about the Grinch’s attempt to steal Christmas. It was Cindy Lou Who, a smiling woman with blond hair tied in two red bows and a face made up with freckles that contrasted with blue eyes. In appearance she was the per- fect protagonist to confront any Grinch. I would learn reassur- ingly that behind the delightful
tions and then took over, asking questions to elicit the students’ participation. What is an allow- ance? What is credit? What is debt? What is currency, interest, etc.? The students were sur- prisingly informed and savvy. However, the answers usually needed further elaboration, and so after each response, a Power- Point definition was projected, and more discussion ensued. Some of the presentations elic- ited value judgments, such as a consideration of the difference between a “want” and a “need.”
How heavy is the door?

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