Dunrobin Primary School teacher tops school savers programme

Sunday, August 05, 2018

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To the more than 600 students at Dunrobin Primary, particulalrly those in grade five, Sandra Graham-Mitchell is more than a teacher. A people person, she is always looking out for the best interest of her students, especially when it comes to money management.

As the JN School Savers' coordinator at Dunrobin for the past three years, she has guided more than 100 participants in the JN Schools Savers' Programme at the school to develop the habit of saving.

“I don't believe that children are too young to be taught the importance of managing their money. Therefore, I encourage them to always set aside some of their lunch money for rainy days,” she explained.

Her diligence to steer students in the right direction paid off handsomely when she emerged as the JN School Savers' Teacher of the Year at the recent JN School Savers' Conference, held at Knutsford Court Hotel.

She was rewarded with a day pass for four at Jewels Runaway; a $50,000 shopping spree from Sampars Supermarket; spa treatment from Adam and Eve Spa; and a gift basket and plaque.

Graham-Mitchell, who has been teaching for the past 10 years, said the award came as a surprise.

“I'm so elated! I worked really hard to get the children to save, and now the hard work has paid off,” she declared.

Through her efforts, Dunrobin Primary contributed nine per cent of the overall savings among schools at the basic, primary and high school level in the JN School Savers' Programme, which led to the school receiving both the Top Primary School award and the School of the Year award, along with a cash prize of $100,000.

Graham-Mitchell said that she vividly remembers her own experience as a child, when her parents often encouraged her to save money.

“My father would always say: 'It's not what you earn, but what you save that counts.' Every Sunday my siblings and I would receive money to buy ice cream from my sister's godfather; however, my father would tell us that not all the ice cream money should be used to buy ice-cream, instead we should save that money every other week.”

Having developed an appreciation for saving, Graham-Mitchell pointed out that she inculcated this same principle in her two children, who are now adults.

“I ensured that they had a savings account before they started school, in the same manner that my parents did for me as a child.”

Given her early exposure to saving, Graham-Mitchell did not have second thoughts when she was invited to take up the role of JN School Savers' coordinator at Dunrobin. On a weekly basis she facilitated students making deposits to their savings accounts, and she is heartened by the positive attitudes they have developed toward savings.

“One of my students who saved consistently was able to assist in offsetting her back-to-school expenses when she started high school last year. And one of my grade one students is so serious about saving that if his mother forgets his money, she would not be at peace.”

She explained how she meticulously keeps a record of all the money given to her by the students.

Michelle Webster Gauntlette, youth marketing officer at JN Bank, commends Graham-Mitchell for her outstanding performance as a JN School Savers' coordinator.

“We are pleased with her commitment to the savings programme. She has been very dedicated to the task and goes the extra mile to encourage the students to save consistently,” Webster Gauntlette said.

JN launched the school savers' programme in September 2001 to encourage children to develop the habit of thrift. The programme empowers thousands of children at the basic, primary and secondary levels across the country to develop good saving habits.

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