2009-12-05 / Schools

‘Parky’ checks out Jackson Intermediate

By Scott Rawdon

Park National Bank’s “Parky” gets the rock star treatment at a Jackson Intermediate School assembly last month. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. Park National Bank’s “Parky” gets the rock star treatment at a Jackson Intermediate School assembly last month. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. HEBRON – Most of us are familiar with the television show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Well, are you smarter than a fourth grader?

If you still can’t balance a checkbook, maybe not. Last month Jackson Intermediate School fourth graders were treated to a visit from Park National Bank mascot “Parky,” Hebron PNB Assistant Branch Manager Janet Springer, and Hebron PNB Branch Manager Mike McDonald, who explained to them the basics of balancing a checkbook, and making deposits and withdrawals.

“So many times we teach math in abstraction,” said Jackson fourth grade teacher Lisa Noble. She said that JIS teachers wanted fourth graders to have “real world” experience with mathematics, so they challenged their students to keep track of their “Lancer Loot” in checkbooks and decide whether to spend it all in one place or save some for later.

She explained that students earn Lancer Loot, up to a dollar at a time from teachers and staff, when they exhibit “PRIDE” behavior-Prepared, Respectful, In control, Data Driven, Exceptional. Lancer Loot may be spent at a school store, which offers many things from Lakewood logo adorned hoodies and sweatshirts, to sticky notes and pencil pouches. The students shop quarterly, when some earn up to $60 of the ficticious cash, enough for a Lakewood hoody. “The kids really like it,” said Noble.

This year, Noble said teachers decided to open the “Pride Bank of JIS” and literally issue each student a checkbook with which to record his or her spending. McDonald lectured the class about how to deposit and withdrawal money from a checking account and the importance of saving money. Noble said it’s not within the school district’s current budget to take entire classes on field trips, so students watched a video of people conducting bank business at the Hebron PNB branch and enjoyed a glimpse inside the bank vault. Parky’s arrival punctuated the end of McDonald’s presentation.

“I have a lot of kids who decided not to spend anything,” said Noble, adding that parents Holly Graham and Allison Riley helped to create and assemble the students’ checkbooks.

McDonald said there’s probably not a prescribed age where children grasp the concept of a checkbook, but he did see one of the JIS fourth graders in town shortly after the presentation, who explained that he was saving his Lancer Loot. “I really think that exposure (to the basics of finances) even at that age, will have an impact for a long time to come,” he said.

“Park (National Bank) is definitely counted on to be a source of information,” said Bethany Lewis, PNB Communications Specialist, who added that PNB bankers and personnel have been giving school presentations for more than 20 years. She said PNB sponsors the Get Smart About Credit program for high schools within the PNB service area and the Teaching Children to Save program for mainly elementary students. Lewis said several local teachers invite PNB bankers to talk about specific subjects, like checkbooks.

Noble said she believes her fourth graders now have a better understanding of how to maintain a balanced checkbook. “That’s huge,” she said.

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