Community gets involved in students' education

When it comes to students in the Tennessee Valley, one city's business leaders decided to step out of the office and into the classroom.

How to manage time, money and how to get a job are all things a successful adult needs to know. But when do we learn these things? For students in Albertville, the answer is 8th grade.

"It's got to start at this pivotal age because we've got to get these kids knowing that there are jobs they can do but they've got to get an education," said Jennifer Palmer, Albertville Chamber of Commerce President.

The Albertville Chamber of Commerce funds the CHOICES program. Going on the sixth year, they'll bring business leaders into the classroom to talk about real world issues.

One of the exercises uses role playing to show the students how to budget. One student is the worker, another the landlord, another the power company and the list goes on.

"What I've found out is that these kids actually felt the role. They were let down after they realized, 'Hey I have no money. I'm in the red,'" said CHOICES volunteer Markus Spicer.

Spicer, a local business owner, says the kids really respond to having an outside voice in the classroom.

"You start seeing kids that are quiet, by day two they're opening up, throwing out examples, they're talking more," said Spicer.

The CHOICES program also tackles tough issues like how a student's home life can impact their success.

"Do you have any control over your family's income level, no you don't. But you do have control over how you react to that," said Spicer.

The program is designed to show kids it's important to set goals and stay in school.

"When the teacher shows they care, the persons outside the school system show they care, the kids really want to learn," said Spicer.

8th graders at Albertville Middle School will go through the CHOICES program this spring.

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