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Students get a look at the real world

By David Broyles, The Mount Airy News, N.C.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 18--Career and Technology Education (CTE) students at Mount Airy High School had a chance to view "The Real World" upclose, by participating in it Thursday as a partnership of businesses and groups staged a chance for them to role play in situations they could see later in life.

The Children's Center of Surry Inc., the high school, the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, the State Employees Credit Union, Surry Community College and Surry County e-link all teamed up to stage the crash course in the connection between decisions, education and quality of life possible for more than 40 students.

"We try to use assessments from students to match them to professions they would like to be in," said Ginny Stammetti, program coordinator for the Mount Airy event. She said participants were given a fictional identity complete with salary, a credit rating and an educational level. Presenters HR Manger Debbie Hooker of Willow-Tex, SECU Human Resources Manager Lilnette Phillips and Teresa Sisk of SouthData led workshops on job interviewing and search skills, budgeting and banking.

Stammetti said participants then enter the Real World's stations where they can "shop." These stations (or exhibits) were housing, entertainment, clothing, communication, transportation, health insurance, cell phone, groceries, childcare, next payday, new friend and a "stuff happens" table.

She explained participants make decisions based on their needs and are required to stay within their budget. They are asked to obtain housing, insurance, transportation, utilities and decide if they will have health insurance. The stuff happens card is later played. Participants are told to buy whatever they want after they have purchased the fixed items.

"They hit the floor for the real world with a salary and their check book," Stammetti said. "They have to be financially smart. If they go over budget we make them go back and decide what to do to stay on budget. We are able to do this through a grant and the community has been so wonderful with donations from our breakfast to the gift bags for the students. We had a very small budget to work from for this."

SECU Representative Jimmy Goodrum said one station will get down to the nitty gritty on whether participants salary qualifies them for a new car, a used car or having to borrow their parents car. He said many find it eye-opening to see the impact of salary, credit scores and expenses such as gas and insurance.

"They will see child care is a huge expense and another part of this is to make them aware of the consequences of dropping out," said Goodrum. "What I'm trying to do is transition into bill-paying, hard-working adults. The reality they see through this is very different from what they understand. This is only one program like this that's out there. We try to make it simple and it's an eye opener to them."

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SECU Financial Service Representative Emmie Gipple said her firm is dedicated to helping not only students but others with similar real world issues whenever they can.

"You are never too old to learn how to manage you money better," said Gipple."I think this is a good program and I'm excited for the students. As a credit union, we are more community centered."

Lowe's Home Improvement's Mount Airy Manager Neil Cothren served as a volunteer for the program and could readily attest to seeing young, newly hired employees suffer from not knowing about the impact of real world taxes on take home pay.

"From our standpoint this better prepares children who could be future employees for us," said Cothren. "They truly need to see how the real world impacts their life. I think education today overall has more real world exposure and that differs from what I remember from school. There is more problem solving. This program is a learning opportunity. Not every learning experience is in just the classroom."

Laurie Culler, Robin Testerman, Amanda King, Helen Raymond, Amanda Brooks and Amber Jennings also served as volunteers for the program.

Reach David Broyles at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.

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(c)2014 The Mount Airy News (Mount Airy, N.C.)

Visit The Mount Airy News (Mount Airy, N.C.) at www.mtairynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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