Fiery Hills Microsociety
Complete with its own currency, laws, and economy, Fiery Hills is the microsociety within the scholar population at EA Young Academy. In 2012, scholars worked together to create this miniature society, and today, every scholar at Young is a citizen and employee of Fiery Hills. By learning through engagement, the scholars gain a deeper understanding of the connections between the classroom and real-life skills, including financial literacy, economic conventions, and civic and governmental principles. As in real life, the success of the society depends upon the productivity of the scholars, and so they learn to work as producers, consumers, legislators, bankers, managers, entrepreneurs, and many other roles. The scholars’ daily jobs and ability to maintain financial stability (both for themselves and for the society as a whole) require them to apply their reading, writing, math, art, social studies and science skills, along with a good dose of critical thinking.
Near the beginning of each school year, Fiery Hills Conglomerate holds a job fair to fill the multitude of available positions. Prior to the fair, students are provided with a list of available positions that describe the responsibilities for each job. Students then have the opportunity to research the jobs further, tailor their resumé, and prepare for their interviews. On the day of the Job Fair, the scholars are interviewed by staff and student department heads, who collaborate to make the departmental hiring decisions.
In many instances, the skills necessary to run the society are learned “on the job” as well as in the classroom. Scholars participate in business and departmental meetings, develop business plans, integrate technology, and provide ideas for products or services in their businesses. On semi-annual Market Days, scholars showcase their business ideas, sell products and services, and engage in purchasing from and selling to each other – further building or shrinking their fortunes. Students can also earn pay from an occasional contract job on an as-needed basis.
Economic concepts are taught within the microsociety and integrated throughout the school day. On a biweekly basis, the Banking and Payroll Departments set up the Fiery Hills Bank & Trust (usually in the Gym) to administer Payday. On Payday, Scholars receive their paychecks and are able to deposit that check into their bank account, withdraw Hawkeyes (the currency for Fiery Hills), check their balance, and complete other typical banking activities. Paydays provide further lessons in financial responsibilty and banking principles, and expose the students to a dose of income tax – an item they will certainly experience later in their lives. Scholars also have the option to purchase insurance policies to cover mock-catastrophic events (orchestrated by the faculty), which can have a significant impact on the student’s bank accounts if they are not adequately insured!
Fiery Hills is designed to empower Young Academy’s scholars to take an
active role in their own education by creating a relevant learning experience. By providing multiple opportunities for all scholars to succeed both as individuals and as a group, Fiery Hills fosters an environment where students feel a sense of belonging and responsibility for each other and their community.