“I am going to take your money.”
Students groan and whine when they hear this. The words don’t come from a class bully who wants some extra money for lunch. In fact, this disappointing announcement is being made by their third-grade teacher, Shelby Lattimore.
In one of many viral videos on Lattimore’s TikTok account at @shelby_thatsmee (this one has 9.3 million views), the teacher informs her students that it’s time to pay rent.
“You have to pay me for that nice desk you’ve got and that nice blue chair you are sitting in,” she tells the kids in this video:
@shelby_thatsmee Hard Life Lessons in 3rd Grade, my students had to pay rent for the first time! Year Two of collecting classroom rent and it is still the best feeling ever! #rent #money #teacher â¬ original sound – Ms.L
Why would an elementary school teacher charge her students “money” for rent? How do these children pay their bills? It’s all part the North Carolina teacher’s plan to teach students financial literacy.
Lattimore wants to introduce the children to this part of life because their community struggles with economic hardship and understanding how to handle finances.
“Charlotte is known for generational poverty,” Lattimore told NBC News. “A lot of my students of color, Hispanic, Black, whatever it may be, they see their parents, they see their guardian, they see their grandmothers, grandfathers, whatever, may be living check to check. They see the money management of not thinking long term necessarily and the consequences of it.”
Students earn “Miss Lattimore Bucks” by taking on jobs around the classroom. Not all jobs pay the same, but the students have the chance to cycle through jobs.
When the students get paid, they can spend their money on various rewards, such as lunch with friends, a homework pass, and more. Each reward has a different dollar value, so students have to save and budget for the things they want. They can even pay $30 to be the teacher for a day.
While students are free to spend how they like and aren’t allowed to owe money, they must have their $5 rent. That is, until their rent goes up thanks to a lesson on the hard realities of inflation.
@shelby_thatsmee I hit my class with inflation for the New Year. Another life lesson taught in 3rd Grade. @bloomnu #inflation #rent #actor â¬ original sound – Ms.L
Lattimore is closing in on 1 million followers on TikTok, and she said her videos are making her twice the amount of her teaching salary. But, she told NBC, her teaching career comes first.
“It’s very important, as a Black educator, for my students to see someone who looks like them,” she told NBC.
As for what keeps her going in a job that doesn’t pay her as much as her social media presence? It isn’t the money.
“It’s going to sound so corny, but it’s them. The corny little hugs that are germ-filled but they just can’t let go. I love my job.”
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.