Phil Gossen loaned his son $10 and was amazed the day Phil Jr. handed him eight dollars and said, “I owe you two dollars.” Susan Schweitzer was so happy she could cry. It was her money class where Phil Jr. learned to do the math.
“Every time I can tell that they see the light, I cry and praise them like there is no tomorrow,” Susan says.
Thanks to the class; when Krystal goes shopping, she can count the change to make sure it’s correct. Kareem studied flash cards to learn his numbers and now offers to help other students. So does Heather.
“It’s heartwarming to see the aha! moment when something hits them,” says Loyce Bridges, a parent volunteer. “The pride in themselves is priceless. And it’s nice how they encourage one another.”
Kareem, Heather and Phil Jr. are just three of many success stories from the class that Susan started six years ago at Noah’s Nest. The first class had six students and met in a hot garage, using a chalkboard made by a neighbor. Today it’s a hot ticket, with upwards of 40 students gathering in the air-conditioned comfort of the Noah’s Landing dining room to crunch numbers.
“There are different levels of knowledge but we all seem to meet in the middle,” says Susan. Her team of volunteer co-teachers includes Loyce, Simone Bratcher, and Ellen and Richard Wendel.
Each class begins with some mental calisthenics. “I ask them who the president of United States is, the vice president, and the governor of Florida,” Susan says. “We talk about the presidents on the money, and then we start class!”
Students work on identifying numbers, tracing them on paper, addition, subtraction, and identifying currency. There are work sheets and chalk board time. But the big payoff is working with real money, and making it count.
“They add their coins together to make $1.68 or 75 cents or some other amount,” Susan says. “At the end they can buy stuff but have to count their money out to make a purchase.” The donated items for sale include cookies, chips, candy, soda and juices.
Soon the sound of cha-ching will be heard in money class. “We purchased a cash register so students can learn the skills of running a register and giving back change,” Susan says.
Susan praises her learners “like there is no tomorrow,” but she knows there is. The money class will “help them in life; keep them from getting ripped off. We will not be here the rest of their life – this will give them more independence”.