“PAY YOUR TAXES, PEOPLE!” Third grader, Sammy, barked right in Kyle’s face. Even though Kyle was significantly taller and stronger and older. . . and the richest entrepreneur at Farrell Elementary MicroSociety School, Sammy persisted. “Do you hear me?” A few onlookers giggled nervously.
Mrs. Gallant, the facilitator of the agency, had seen enough for one day. Sammy’s math skills were undeniable, however putting him in charge of collecting money for the IRS wasn’t just about whether he could count. It was a possible safety risk and a matter of respect.
For a child with autism, Sammy had no trouble speaking. Correction, commanding. “I AM GOING to work in the IRS,” he’d asserted at the job fair months before. Still, Mrs. Gallant knew he was quickly losing control of the situation.
Sammy stood outraged in the middle of the MarketPlace – empty-handed. “But the law says all citizens are supposed to pay taxes!” Confused and downright frustrated, he was on the edge of a serious meltdown.
“You’re right, Sammy, taxes are essential,” Mrs. Gallant replied. “But let’s work on a better way to collect them.” She gave Sammy a pedestal and urged him to stand tall and speak with respect.
The next day Mrs. Gallant and Sammy talked about the responsibilities of citizenship, the purpose of taxes and the role the IRS plays in the student-run society. Together, they wrote up a big sign that read “Pay Your Taxes.” Each day, Sammy marched up to his pedestal with the sign by his side. When tax-payers approached he asked, “Do you know where your taxes go?” and provided an answer without delay.
A month later, Mrs. Gallant saw Sammy and Kyle huddling in the corner. Remembering their last encounter, she walked over to investigate. “Hey, Mrs. G, Kyle and I are starting a business. Come look.” Sammy jumped up and turned around slowly, showing off his new “Pay Your Taxes” t-shirt. Who would have guessed this unlikely duo would soon have the hottest-selling item in the MicroSociety MarketPlace?