Niederjohn, colleagues receive state award


photo courtesy of Scott Niederjohn

LaDonna Leazer, Brian Hansen, Anne Weise and Jan Nickel, who are teachers at Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee, and Scott Niederjohn (second from right) receive award from Gov. Scott Walker.

Amanda Smith, Managing Editor

According to the 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, 73 percent of the 2,000 adults that were sampled feel like they could benefit from a financial professional offering advice.

At the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM), the faculty and board of directors are trying to start financial knowledge early for pre-kindergartners through eighth graders.

Scott Niederjohn, associate professor of business administration, has been on the board of directors for BEAM since 2010. Currently, he serves as the Board Vice President.

On Jan. 28, colleagues and him were honored with 2014 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award in the organization category for their work with BEAM’s The Sky’s the Limit Academy, which they created and implemented in July 2014. His colleagues and him were one of the 17 individuals, businesses and organizations selected from a pool of 38 nominations.

“These worthy individuals and organizations are making a difference by increasing the personal financial knowledge and skills of Wisconsinites of all ages,” said Gov. Scott Walker on the press release.

In order to be considered for this award, nominees need to show innovative implementation, demonstrate measurable results, collaborate with partners and show if the nominee was focused on need-based groups.

BEAM is a public charter school in Milwaukee that does not charge tuition. It has over 800 students in attendance. According to their website, the mission is “educating students to succeed and prosper as productive, accountable citizens.” Niederjohn’s job as part of the board of directors is to help with the running of the school, which includes helping with the curriculum and figuring out the budget.

BEAM’s The Sky’s the Limit Academy was held in July 2014 and was a 10-day program for seventh and eighth grade students.

The program was a way to give high achieving students an opportunity to expand their knowledge. Students were encouraged to apply by their teachers and then 18 of the interested students were selected to participate.

“Teacher encouragement ended up being the best thing,” said Niederjohn. “That really got (the students) interested and excited about it.”

Niederjohn’s role was organizing the trip to Chicago, teaching some of the lessons, setting up the curriculum and helping the teachers with their lesson plan and curriculum.

The goal of the program, according to BEAM’s website, “was to educate middle school students on the basic principles of personal finance, career planning, investing and economics.

During the first week, students worked on a career project in small groups.

They picked a career that they were interested in, then they had to research the education required, where to get the education, what the salary is and what the trends look like for the future.

The second week focused on investing, which included stocks, bonds, mutual funds and stock markets. For their final project, students had to work in groups and pick a stock.

The students then researched it and created a display about it. At the end of the week, they presented the display to their parents and had it be judged by three people. Whoever had the best display won $100.

“The kids wanted it to go on longer,” said Niederjohn. “They really had a lot of fun.”

Next year, he is hoping that more students will participate in BEAM’s The Sky’s the Limit Academy. In the future, he also wants to see similar ideas in other schools in the Milwaukee area and for it to spread to other cities in the U.S.