For thirty years I have been involved with Junior Achievement as a teacher, JA coordinator, and now a classroom volunteer. Over the years I have recruited hundreds of local community volunteers to go into classrooms to deliver the Junior Achievement curriculum to students kindergarten through twelfth grades. I observed students, in my own classroom and others, involved in the JA lessons, asking questions and participating in activities. The volunteers were talking to students about careers, money management, and entrepreneurship. Part of the mission of the United Way is making sure students are ready for work and real-life experiences.
Volunteers come from all walks of life. The longest serving volunteer in my own classroom was a CEO, CFO from two area companies. He volunteered over twenty years teaching eighth grade students the importance of staying in school and the importance of receiving training and education beyond high school to create employment opportunities. With his help students got a fictitious career, a net income and then created a monthly budget. He taught them about gross and net pay also how important it is to save money and live within your means. He taught students how to create a resume then had employees from his company come into the classroom to interview students one on one using their resumes. He invited all the students on a field trip to his company to see first hand the education and skills necessary for career opportunities in our area.
I will never forget the eighty plus year old volunteer who was a Rotarian. He wanted to volunteer with high school students but was unsure he could manage all six lessons. He teamed with another Rotarian and the students responded well as he talked to them about high growth careers, developing soft skills and completing job applications. He shared with the students his personal story and how important it is to have a career you enjoy and give back to your community.
One of the most rewarding experiences I have had as an educator is to now see former students, who had JA in school, to return as adults to support Junior Achievement. These former students are now classroom volunteers, part of the JA Advisory Committee, and employees of companies and organizations that help fund Junior Achievement in our area. Junior Achievement was important to these students and now as adults they want make JA possible to students of the next generation. United Way’s investments continue to be a valuable part of Junior Achievement and the growth within our community. Without these programs, these kids may not have these necessary resources to be prepared and successful adults.
Cathy Moots, a JA Volunteer, retired educator. Junior Achievement is the nation's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA's programs include work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, igniting the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century. For more information about Junior Achievement visit www.juniorachievement.org