U.S. Sen. Chris Coons reads to students at Shortlidge Elementary Academy as part of Teach Children to Save Day, in which UD's Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship is a partner.

Student savers

At story time with U.S. Sen. Coons, students learn about saving and money

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12:12 p.m., April 16, 2014--A future philanthropist, a future homeowner, and a future college graduate. If the students at Shortlidge Elementary Academy in Wilmington could use their money to buy anything they wanted, giving to charity, buying a house and paying for college were some of the admirable goals that topped their list. 

Of course, the latest smartphone, clothes and a car made it on there, too. And if the students take the savings lessons of Teach Children to Save Day (TCTSD) to heart, they will soon be on their way to reaching their purchasing dreams.

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The students revealed their financial plans during a special visit with U.S. Sen. Chris Coons last Friday morning, April 11. Coons was one of several hundred guest presenters, most of whom hail from the Delaware banking community, who visited nearly 300 classrooms reaching over 8,000 students over the course of TCTSD.

The Delaware Bankers Association Financial Education Alliance coordinates TCTSD in partnership with the University of Delaware’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship.

The annual event, which is actually staged throughout the state over a five-day stretch, included a visit to Fairview Elementary School by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who signed a proclamation to recognize the day. Volunteers then visited the schools throughout last week, with Coons closing TCTSD at Shortlidge.

So what is the source of the students’ income that they are saving up for their goals? Household chores, baby- and dog-sitting, yard work, birthday and holiday cards, good report cards, and losing teeth. And with the tooth fairy doling out at least $5 per tooth today, these students are on their way to big earnings.

“Let’s see what the Great Investo has up his sleeve with his super special new piggy bank and where you might put your money,” said Coons to the class as he started to read from The Great Investo and the Secret Saver. The book was written and illustrated by Greg Koseluk of the Delaware Bankers Association specifically for TCTSD this year and made possible by a grant from Capital One.

Coons engaged the students in the lessons of the book, and shared stories about his grandmother, who squirreled money away in empty coffee cans during the Depression instead of the bank to keep it safe.

But he and the students quickly learned from the Great Investo’s “secret saving genie” hidden in the piggy bank that nooks and crannies of the house aren’t the best keeping place for hard-earned cash; the genie stashed coins under the bed and buried cash in the yard, but the money quickly became the snack of a vacuum cleaner and hungry gophers. 

“So what would be a better place to store your money?” Coons asked the students.

“A bank because it’s a safer place,” said one student. 

Added another, “If you leave your money in a bank, over a year or two it will grow. The bank puts a little more money in, but if you just put it in a hidden spot that wouldn’t happen.”

Coons was impressed.

“You’re right,” he said. “You see, sometimes people think saving is like magic and it’s hard to do, but really it’s quite simple. Everyone here has some way they earn money. So what did we learn? That you can buy what you want, as long as you save your money.”

And with his teeth earning just a dime each back in the day, it seemed Coons felt the students were off to a great start with their savings and financial knowledge.

Diane Mahotiere, the class’ teacher, and co-teacher Carolyn Martin-McGee, were grateful for the visit from Coons and the participation of volunteers in the day.

“She does whatever it takes for kids to grasp whatever concept, from banking to history to math to reading,” said Martin-McGee of Mahotiere. “She ensures all students are exposed to all parts of the curriculum, and community outlets like TCTSD help to make that happen.”

About Teach Children to Save Day

Established in 1998, Teach Children to Save Day presents lessons on spending, saving and money management as part of a nationwide financial literacy effort to educate students on the importance of saving as the basis of future financial security.

The Delaware Bankers Association Financial Education Alliance coordinates the program in partnership with UD’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE). The CEEE develops the lessons, which meet Delaware’s state economic education standards, and plays a vital role in preparing the lesson packets for each volunteer and classroom teacher as well as matching the bankers to the schools.

Consistent in-kind and financial support from the banking community has made the program possible, and the event in Delaware has consistently been recognized by the American Bankers Association as one of the best in the nation.

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photos by Evan Krape

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