Microsociety: Charter school replicates facets of society, including taxes, banking and more

Staff photo by Hannah LaClaire Students from MicroSociety Academy played a cup stacking game during Micro Day on Wednesday as a screen-free alternative at the Micro Arcade.

NASHUA – Hearing third graders talk about taxes, net losses and bank loans is surprising, as is seeing an 11-year-old travel agent or a 5-year-old mail carrier. However, that is just part of everyday life at MicroSociety Academy Charter School.

The nearly 200 students at MACS not only learn math, reading, history and science, but also run and operate Micro City, their own, independent society.

The micro society block is a specific period of time in the afternoons during which they work, meet with managers, fill out paperwork and peruse the marketplace.

Wednesday morning marked Micro Day, an opportunity for students to showcase their various business ventures and agency work to their parents and community.

Staff photo by Hannah LaClaire MicroSociety Academy Charter School operates as its own micro city, complete with government, businesses and a post office.

Shanaya Vimadalal, a fifth grader and Micro City president is a natural leader, greeting her constituents in between taking various community members on tours of the school.

Upstairs, a team of bankers worked to give visitors micro dollars (which read “in Micro we trust”) which they can exchange for goods and services like a science experiment at the Science Walk, crafts at Micro City crafts or some screen-free games at the Micro City Arcade.

Olivia Sobie, a sixth grader, is the owner of Olivia’s Relaxation Center, which she said she started to help people relax after a long day.

They offer teas, hand massages, handmade lip balms, and other luxuries. In order to open, Olivia had to pitch her idea, apply for a loan from the bank and interview and hire employees.

The latter, she said, had been the hardest part.

Staff photo by Hannah LaClaire Kindergarten students like these mail carriers run the post office

The warehouse operates upstairs and workers help supply the businesses, such as the popup origami center, which has since closed down. They also handle the recycling within the school.

Downstairs, the kindergarteners were busy sorting and sending packages and letters, the postal carriers wearing uniforms. The 20 post office employees are managed by two seventh graders and supervised by teachers.

The second kindergarten classroom was occupied by the science museum, where students were busy learning about and creating pieces based on the solar system.

The Travel Zone, while not an official, licensed travel agency, transports visitors to a different country every month. This month, with a focus on France, directors were offering Monet-themed lily pad paintings, language lessons and information on landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.

The government offices also operate downstairs. On Tuesday afternoon, grade representatives were doing taxes, yet another, if less pleasant part of running a city.

Staff photo by Hannah LaClaire Bankers count out money to give to visitors for spending on Micro Day

Amanda Schneck, a parent representative for the school said that she chose the school in part because it allows her daughter, who is in kindergarten, to learn valuable life skills at a young age.

It also, she said, helps build a sense of community.

Each grade level fills only one classroom, except for kindergarten, which currently has two classrooms. The school, which has only been open since 2015, will expand next year to add eighth grade.

As part of the school’s mission statement, founders believe the school will “better prepare our children for college, post high school education and the 21st century workplace … Graduates of MicroSociety Schools typically have a stronger economic foundation and better understanding of the intricacies of the work world and being a productive member of a democratic society,”

Matt Clermont, a founding fourth-grade teacher, agrees.

A crucial aspect of teaching any students, he said, is to show students how what they are learning applies in the real world.

However, at MACS, those concepts can be easily applied; you need math to know how to do taxes or figure out how much change you are owed, etc.

These skills, basic as they may seem, are something that some do not even get until after college- how to balance a checkbook, saving money and more.

That, and the students are very proud of what they do.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashautelegraph.com.