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'It’s a lifelong course' | Gwinnett County business teacher focuses on life skills

Rod Hames has been teaching for 32 years.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — With school out for the summer, the learning is just beginning for students at one Gwinnett County middle school. More than 200 students at Crews Middle School are taking business and finance classes with a focus on real-life, hands-on lessons.

Rod Hames, a 32-year teaching veteran, heads the class and uses foundational principles in the classroom. 11Alive caught up with Hames as he was having his seventh graders compete to make the best in-restaurant app for Zaxby's. Students like Aarmaan Singh brought their creative ideas to life by coding them on computers. 

“Mr. Hames makes it really fun to actually learn and do all the work," Singh said. “He hits all three things: explanation, understanding and then actually hands-on work. I learned great lessons of leadership."

Hames said he has brought in more than 100 guests from the community to help with interactive lessons on credit and debit, decision-making, budgeting and bankruptcy. 

“Of course, there’s a textbook and they do a workbook, but I need them talking to one another and doing activities that get them out of the seat,” Hames said. "To get them early, to get the habit set now for either saving, investing or thinking entrepreneurially, thinking in a growth mindset, it’s a lifelong course because we’re always wanting our students to think entrepreneurially and we want them to spend their money wisely.”

The mindset Hames speaks of has resulted in positive feedback from parents and even some job offers for students over the summer. 

"He teaches in all these different ways," seventh grader Christina Chvatal said. "Sometimes, he’ll show videos, give us hands-on ways to do stuff. Sometimes, he’ll give us things to write on a piece of paper that connect to our real lives.”

Hames hopes that mindset also serves students well into the future. He encouraged parents to get involved in the classroom however they can. 

Any teachers interested in more innovative approaches in school can register for the Empowered RiseUp conference here

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