Teacher goes viral for charging third graders ‘rent’ and other ‘fees’ to teach financial literacy

CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte teacher is drawing national attention for her creative approach to teaching students how to be responsible with money.

Shelby Lattimore teaches third grade at Renaissance West STEAM Academy.

“How it started was really just a motivator to get them to come to class and just build attendance,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

But it’s grown into a sophisticated economy.

Her students earn “Miss Lattimore Bucks” for working jobs. “We have line leader. We have door holder, teacher assistant,” she said. “We have a cleanup crew of four students at the end of the day.”

But there are expenses too.

Lattimore charges her students “rent” for their desks and chairs, which cost $7 per month.

There are also fines for things such as late homework or talking in class.

Students can spend their bucks on treats:

Candy: $2

Homework pass: $3

Lunch with a friend: $5

Lunch with Miss Lattimore: $7

What’s the most expensive thing? What’s the granddaddy of them all? “Be the teacher,” she said. “Be the teacher from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.” It costs $30. She’s had two takers so far and more are saving up for it. That’s right -- third graders are budgeting.

“I really see a lot of adults saying they wish they would have learned this before it’s actually real life and there are consequences in real life,” she said.

Just like real life, there’s inflation. Stoogenke asked a student, Mailen, what he thought when prices went up. “I didn’t like it,” he said.

Lattimore’s videos of all this have gone viral with roughly 30 million likes on TikTok.

When Stoogenke asked her if she ever imagined it would catch on like this, she replied, “Absolutely not. To where it is now, it’s crazy.”

As you’d expect, Lattimore says a lot of teachers want to do the same thing, so she’s making a handbook for others to follow.

VIDEO: Rock Hill teachers surprised with classroom makeovers for teacher appreciation week

Comments on this article