NJ students learn financial literacy. These future CEOs say it’s fun and tasty.

Serendipity would land Jacob Fryer his first job.

“I had two calls and I was super stressed that afternoon,” said Rui Barroso, owner of Layton Hotel Tavernremembering a busy Saturday last year.

As diners have continued to turn up on weekends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Layton’s restaurant, like many in New Jersey, has seen the health crisis continue to weigh on people’s willingness to dine. in the restaurant and the number of employees available.

Enter Fryer. The 15-year-old was waiting for a table with his family that Saturday. Hearing that Barroso lacked a dishwasher, he intervened.

“I had just finished running a 5K that day too,” Fryer said with a laugh. “It ended up being my first job.”

Layton Hotel Tavern owner Rui Barroso shows students at Sandyston-Walpack School how orders are organized and processed at his restaurant. February 1, 2022 in Layton, NJ. Steven Rodas | NJ advance media

As a group of students from Sandyston-Walpack School learned how to run a business Tuesday at the Layton Hotel Tavern, principal Harold Abraham said Fryer provided perhaps the best lesson of all. “Hard work… He’s only a few years older than some of them too, so it’s really special for them to see,” he said.

The trip was one of many trips the Sandyston-Walpack school group has taken as part of the “Bobcat Billionaire $” after-school financial literacy program. The program began in September and exposes students in grades 4-6 to how finances play a major role in our daily lives.

Students in the program – 15 in total so far – have learned topics such as budgeting, saving, investing, the difference between debit and credit and “being a healthy skeptic”, said school officials.

Abraham said pupils at the Sussex County School, which has around 150 pupils, also met with local business owners like Meg O’Grady from Dirty Dill Pickles and learned to become entrepreneurs themselves.

New Jersey Department of Education officials said financial literacy has become much more integrated into public school curricula since 2020, follow the new career readiness standards. And for Abraham, these types of programs thrive best when they involve hands-on experiences and creative lesson plans.

“I loved learning how to open a bank account, write a check, cash and deposit them,” said Nora Deckert, 11, of Layton, in sixth grade. “My favorite activity was when we learned to be CEOs. I feel like I learned a lot from this program and I know it should help me forever in my career.

Sandyston-Walpack School

A group of 13 students from Sandyston-Walpack School visited the Layton Hotel Tavern in Layton, NJ, to learn how to run a business as part of the school’s financial literacy program, called Bobcat Billionaire$. February 1, 2022. Steven Rodas | NJ advance media

The group of eager students headed to the Layton Hotel Tavern on Tuesday afternoon.

But look closer, the director said, and you saw future studio owners, digital marketers and sports coaches. The students shared many career aspirations with Abraham. The director said the programming is designed to help them continue to explore these different paths during their youth.

Once the students were settled, Barroso provided an introduction, including a brief history of the tavern, a summary of the impact of COVID on the business, and his role as owner. “No one really lives upstairs, the hotel has had the name for so long that I kept it,” he said early on, referring to the tavern’s takeover five years ago. .

A tour of the dining room, kitchen, walk-in freezer and basement storage area was to follow. It included lessons on salary, inventory and customer service.

Sandyston-Walpack School students visit the Layton Hotel Tavern

A group of 13 students from Sandyston-Walpack School visited the Layton Hotel Tavern in Layton, NJ, to learn how to run a business as part of the school’s financial literacy program, called Bobcat Billionaire$. February 1, 2022.

As the students took part in the visit, the questions poured in: “Do we have to pay everyone?” “What is it (pointing to a receipt printer)?” “How does the storage work?” “Why do you have cameras?”

A few comments too: “What’s that smell?” “My father is CEO…” “When do we make pizzas?”

Seemingly everyday tasks kept the group curious, like when the phone rang and Jacob answered. Everyone stopped to watch the dishwasher-turned-server take an order.

The next step for the kids would be to make their own personal pizzas, hand them over to Barroso to cook, and share a meal after a hard day’s work.

“It teaches them to be financially responsible,” said Nina Vasallo, mother of 9-year-old Bear Durino, who participates in the program. “Bear is always the recipient as a customer. This way he learns how to run a business, which they don’t really learn in class.

Sandyston-Walpack School students visit the Layton Hotel Tavern

A group of 13 students from Sandyston-Walpack School visited the Layton Hotel Tavern in Layton, NJ, to learn how to run a business as part of the school’s financial literacy program, called Bobcat Billionaire$. February 1, 2022.

Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed legislation in 2019 that required the state board of education to include financial literacy instruction in the curriculum for grades 6-8 students in public schools across the country. Garden State.

“(The New Jersey Education Association) supported this legislation. An important role of education is to prepare students for success in life,” NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said in a statement. “Financial literacy is an essential life skill and starting early helps strengthen and develop this foundation throughout their educational journey.”

Shaheed Morris, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Education, said younger students are also required to attend these classes.

Morris said New Jersey’s student learning standards – career readiness, life literacy and key skills, presented in 2020states that tax knowledge, habits, and skills should be part of the lesson plan with “developmentally appropriate expectations” from K-2 through 12th grade.

“The standards are designed to introduce students to these essential concepts within specific grade groups to ensure students are prepared for post-secondary success and the achievement of personal financial well-being,” Morris said. .

While financial literacy was part of the education standards in previous iterations, it has become “much more robust” in 2020 by presenting “a much fuller set of expectations in elementary and middle school classrooms,” a- he added.

Janet Bamford, director of public affairs for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said the standards are essential for students’ futures.

“Understanding these (personal financial literacy) concepts enables students to make informed decisions about their personal finances and is a key skill that can help them build fulfilling, financially secure and successful lives,” Bamford said.

Sandyston-Walpack students Sam Mahoney and Tori Hill would agree — as long as the fun is involved.

“I like hands-on projects and learning from experience,” said Hull, 12, who wants to get into digital marketing.

Mahoney, 12, who enjoys soccer, lacrosse and baseball in his spare time, looks back fondly on his time organizing a school store.

“As a team, we bought a variety of items for the store and sold them. I thought it was great because it showed us how to be an entrepreneur and run our own business,” he said.

Sandyston-Walpack School

Sam Mahoney, 12, spreads tomato sauce on his own pizza at the Layton Hotel Tavern. Mahoney was one of 13 students from Sandyston-Walpack School who visited the restaurant to learn how to run a business as part of the school’s financial literacy program, called Bobcat Billionaire$. February 1, 2022 in Layton. Steven Rodas | NJ advance media

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Steven Rodas can be reached at srodas@njadvancemedia.com. follow him @stevenrodasnj.

Sarah J. Greer