HAMMOND | NIPSCO employee volunteers visited three Hammond schools Friday to teach students about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and economical structures.
The event was the biggest yet for Junior Achievement of Chicago, organizers said. The NIPSCO volunteers who partnered with Junior Achievement reached 66 classes and more than 1,520 students during their one-day visits to Hess, Lincoln and Maywood elementary schools.
Junior Achievement teams up with businesses to create educational events for children. The program began in 1940 and reaches youths in the Chicago area.
Denise Wright, Junior Achievement Northwest Indiana associate director, said Junior Achievement education events normally reach 25 or fewer classes in a single event.
"This is huge," Wright said. "Sixty-six classrooms is definitely not normal for a company to do. It's beyond anything I ever imagined.
"It brought a tear to my eye when I knew we were going to reach 1,520 children in one day. It gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling."
The NIPSCO volunteers each taught in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms.
Third-graders learned about balancing checkbooks, and fifth-graders learned about interdependence by creating a "global web" with string.
NIPSCO Communication Manager Kathleen Szot taught second-grade students about the difference between unit and assembly-line production using paper doughnuts and ingredient stickers.
"It was definitely out my normal day-to-day at NIPSCO," Szot said.
Szot said most NIPSCO volunteers had never done anything like this before, but were put at ease by students' interest in the lessons.
Junior Achievement also encouraged volunteers to tell stories to the class about themselves and their careers.
Wright said events like this can be duplicated in Lake and Porter counties in the future, and she hopes more companies will get involved in Junior Achievement's programs.
"I told NIPSCO, 'You are making history in Northwest Indiana,'" Wright said. "I hope other companies see the scope of this and follow suit."