by Amelia Wigton, Ozark
It’s not a large town — less than 20 citizens — but it is a thriving one. Smartsville is a third-grade classroom at Ozark East Elementary. The mayor is teacher Jessica Lineberry.
“Smartsville is like a city. Students are the citizens. The desks are houses and around the desks are yards,” student Mya Dills said. “We have jobs to help keep Smartsville clean and get things done quicker so we can all get home at the right time at the end of the day.”
Lineberry said she designed Smartsville more than a decade ago as a classroom management tool. She wanted students to have an active role in the development of rules, procedures and consequences.
“Students become fully functional citizens of the town as they take on the responsibilities of a city government and a community that works, learns and plays together,” she said. “In weekly town hall meetings, we discuss issues in our city, learn about our monthly school wide habits, build each other up and notice what is right with a ‘compliment can,’ make goals for learning and behavior, and reflect on our progress toward those goals.”
Lineberry said the students, who she calls “Smarties,” make the laws and vote to implement them. They also have jobs, such as sanitation, bankers, librarians and technology specialists.
“Students get paid to do their jobs daily, but also get bonuses for working as a team to earn classroom compliments or as individuals for being responsible, respectful and safe citizens,” Lineberry said. “Students save their money in their bank and each month students can spend it at the Smartville store.”
The store is, of course, one of the students’ favorite places in Smartsville.
“Every month you get to go to the store and you get to use the money you earned to get stuff,” student Kolby Reid said. “I usually get these muffins with cream inside. And then two chocolates, one for my mom and one for my sisters to share.”
Not only is the store a good incentive for students, but Lineberry said it allows them to learn and practice economic skills, such as counting money and making decisions about saving versus spending and needs versus wants.
“My goal is to allow students to practice real-life citizenship in an atmosphere that challenges them to grow within a modified democracy. The Smartsville program empowers students to be responsible for their own behavior and learning,” she said. “It’s not about third grade, it’s not about today — I really want to make better humans that really are excited and want to be active members of a community.”