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Vanguard, a leading investment management company, is committed to financial literacy for all ages. We started the classroom economy project after an employee's 10-year-old son, a fourth-grader, asked a seemingly simple question during dinner: "I wonder when I'll be able to pay off my mortgage?"
Intrigued by the discovery that her son had a classroom mortgage and was earning a paycheck for his classroom job, the employee contacted her son's teacher. He told her about Rafe Esquith, a California teacher, and handed her the book There Are No Shortcuts.
The classroom economy idea offered a way to teach young people not only the concept of financial discipline but also—very importantly—the rewards that go with it. So Vanguard contacted Mr. Esquith, and a partnership began.
Then Vanguard set out to build on the ideas from Mr. Esquith's book and to make them available, free of charge, to teachers everywhere, knowing that the more help we can provide to educators, the more they can do to teach children financial skills that can last a lifetime.
Vanguard employees were invited to donate their time and expertise to the project and have done so enthusiastically. As a result, we are able to offer program guides and supporting materials to any U.S. teacher who wants to try this method of classroom management, and to help his or her students learn the benefits of financial responsibility by experiencing it.
If you have questions or would like to give us feedback about the My Classroom Economy program or this website please contact us.
Vanguard is one of the world's largest investment management firms, serving more than 10 million investors in the United States and abroad. We are unique among mutual fund companies because we're client-owned (Vanguard is owned by its funds, which are owned by our clients).
Our clients come first in everything we do. Vanguard has long advocated for investor education, recognizing the correlation between investment success and the application of basic financial principles.
The company is also committed to the well-being of the community, both locally and broadly. The Vanguard Gives Back program supports employees in donating their time, talent, and treasure to assist the areas where we live and work. More than half of Vanguard's 14,000 employees give their time to a variety of programs, including educational programs, group volunteer days, food drives, holiday giving, and United Way campaigns.
My Classroom Economy brings together our dedication to financial education and our desire to support the broad community. Employees from across the organization volunteered their time to create this website and all it contains.
Rafe Esquith has taught fifth-graders at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Los Angeles since 1984. Over nearly 30 years he has developed techniques that have led to striking successes for his students, all of whom come from a community that struggles with poverty. Mr. Esquith's many honors range from Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life Award (2000) to a National Medal of Arts (2003) and a Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award (2011). He has written three books: There Are No Shortcuts, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, and Lighting Their Fires.
Mr. Esquith uses many strategies to help the children see the rewards—including fun—of hard work and self-discipline. Perhaps the most notable public achievement of each year's class is to learn, stage, and perform a complete Shakespeare play with musical accompaniment. The Hobart Shakespeareans have gained national recognition.
The classroom economy is another such strategy. In There Are No Shortcuts, Mr. Esquith wrote: "With our schoolroom economic system, students learn to value and take care of property and to plan ahead and earn the things they want. With luck they'll go on to use these economic skills for the rest of their lives."
In developing the program, materials, and website for My Classroom Economy, we sought the feedback and guidance of educators like you.
Our special thanks go to these contributors:
Chris Salerno, the fourth-grade teacher who first introduced us to this experiential learning technique. His contributions to our program have been immeasurable. Mr. Salerno's implementation of the classroom economy, based on his reading of Rafe Esquith's books, inspired Vanguard to begin the project.
By providing samples of his materials, answering numerous questions, and allowing the team to watch the classroom economy in action. Mr. Salerno has been an invaluable resource.
Research and pilot participants who provided insights into the daily activities of the classroom and delivered feedback about the program and the resources we are providing. We are deeply appreciative of the schools, the administrators, and especially the teachers who are participating in a pilot group using My Classroom Economy resources during the 2011-2012 school year. Their criticisms, suggestions, and creative ideas help continue to shape the program.
We are interested in your feedback as you implement the Classroom Economy program and explore and reference the website. Your comments and observations are extremely important as the program's success ultimately rests on the students' performance. Please contact us if you would like to give us any feedback about My Classroom Economy or this website.