For One PWC #JAHERO, JA Programming Allows for Giving Back, While also Challenging Oneself

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Greater Washington

             “Life-enriching experience!”

When asked to choose two or three words to describe Junior Achievement (JA), these are the words Piyush Arora came up with, based on his experience volunteering in a 6th grade classroom with JA at Westland Middle School in Bethesda on November 18, 2016.

Arora works for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he helps government agencies improve their organizational and accounting business processes. Luckily for Arora, at PwC, volunteering and giving back to the community is at the core of the company’s corporate culture and PwC is also a longstanding partner of Junior Achievement.

“I’ve always wanted to participate in programs like Teach for America, but couldn’t find the right mix of time and courage,” said Arora. “Junior Achievement makes this opportunity to teach kids accessible for all adults.  And because it breaks this opportunity into bite sized pieces -- a one-day commitment and a choice of teaming up with a partner -- it was the perfect way for me to test the waters and determine if the skills and personality needed to teach and teach kids is right for me.”

And test the waters he did. He quickly learned what it takes to command a classroom for an entire day and gained a new respect for teachers everywhere.

“What I found the most challenging about this experience was just the skillset and energy it takes to teach 6th graders,” said Arora. “I felt pretty helpless a few times, especially towards the second half of the day, when the class was getting tired and I could see some students slipping away.  But with that said, these challenges provided me with thoughts and ideas that will help me be better next time.”

Challenges of the day aside, Arora said that his favorite part of the day were “the moments where the lesson, the students, and I connected.”

“The questions they asked that tied their personal experiences with the lessons were so fascinating,” said Arora.  “And perhaps more importantly, the excitement that they portrayed when engaging in even the most simple of activities like the choice game – whereby, I offered them two choices: Twix or M&Ms, and they would stand or sit to vote for their favorite chocolate, was really great.”

Arora claims that the structure of the JA lessons and the materials offered to volunteers took some of the pressure off of him as he led the classroom and helped to calm his nerves. Read more...

He Proudly Announced, “...I Got the Job!”

Blog entry from Megan Sturges, President and CEO of JA of Greater Kansas City

On the last day of class, Marcus wasn’t there. He had been the most engaged of the ten students in this session of JA Personal Finance at Wyandotte High School. He was the wise guy of the group. An intelligent young man with insightful questions and sarcastic remarks. He was always joking about something, but he led his classmates in participation. I’ll admit, I was disappointed in his absence and the missed opportunity to say goodbye and wish him luck.

Earlier in the course, we discussed each student’s career aspirations and the education needed to achieve their goals. These students, all male and all minority, dreamed of success as accountants. As the first in their families to attend college, planning and funding an education was uncharted territory. Our lessons covered budgeting, saving, investing, and the many expenses associated with attending post-secondary school. To say these young men were overwhelmed would be an understatement. However, their discouragement slowly transformed into determination as we worked through budget exercises, conducted mock interviews, and practiced negotiation tactics.  

Taking my advice, Marcus decided to apply for his first job to begin saving money for college. I knew he had an initial interview with a clothing retail store, but on this last day of class, I had not heard if he was offered the job. Ten minutes after the start of class, Marcus confidently strutted into the room. He proudly announced, “Ms. Sturges, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to tell you… I got the job! And I used what you taught us to negotiate my pay!”

The pride I felt in that moment is the pride our volunteers feel in the classroom every semester.  Many times, the results of our work at Junior Achievement are seen many years later in the collegiate and professional success of our students after graduation. But on this day, I witnessed the immediate effect of the lessons on Marcus’ future. Our curriculum and volunteers prepare and inspire students to take control of their financial health - building the next generation of leaders, and in this case, well-educated accountants.

 

St. Pat’s fifth graders learn business basics at JA BizTown

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Central Iowa, Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa

St. Patrick School fifth grade students got a jump on planning for their economic futures this year by participating in a Junior Achievement (JA) business and financial literacy program that culminated with a trip to the Richard O. Jacobson JA BizTown in Des Moines.

All 16 students applied for jobs at JA BizTown in Des Moines and were given job interviews by St. Patrick School Principal Eddie Diaz. Diaz said he was impressed by the effort and preparation the students demonstrated in their interviews.

“I was blown away by some of their interview skills,” Diaz said, “From their confidence in their answers to the small things like eye contact, posture and a firm handshake. These students came ready to take on the world when they stepped into my office.”

Ahury Perla, a St. Pat’s fifth grader, was one of many students who had a great time on the trip and learned a lot doing so.

“It was really fun and a learning experience,” Perla said. “You learned about writing checks, deposits and work. You get to run a business, and you get to feel how it is to have a job. You get to do stuff that you don’t get to do everyday.”

When asked whether holding a job takes a lot of work, Perla said her classmates were exhausted at the end of the day. She said it made her feel happy because now she knew how her parents felt every day after a long day of work.

           “All schools should go there, because it was really fun,” she said.

Positive Female Role Models Impacting the Future Generations

Original Story from Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky in Bowling Green, Kentucky

On March 8th, JA of South Central Kentucky hosted their first JA Girl$ event. Sponsored by Citizens First Bank and in partnership with the Young Athenas, they brought in 125 7th grade girls from the local middle schools for a JA in a Day using the “JA It's My Future" curriculum. The girls were surrounded by positive female role models who focused on teaching them that the decisions they make now impact their future. The following is an email sent from one of the schools that attended the event.

"I just wanted to say thank you for a great day at the JA Girl$ event. Our young ladies loved it!  While loading the bus back to school, one of our girls said, ‘After the lady (Dr. Sales) spoke to us at lunch, I feel like I could do anything.’  

That afternoon when we returned to school, Mr. Reed, one of our Social Studies teachers, told me about something exciting that happened in his classroom. He said that T.C. (a young lady who attended the event) rarely wants to present in the classroom. They have been doing classroom presentations and she has been dreading it. However, when she returned to the classroom, she approached him and asked if she could be the next to present. She said that she had been inspired by the women she met at the JA event and that she was more than ready to present to the class.

I couldn't let the week get away from me without sharing with you. Thanks for hosting such a wonderful event for our girls who so desperately needed to hear the words that were spoken on Wednesday! Please share this with the presenters who invested their time to make this such a wonderful event for our girls. We are thankful for each of you!”

Junior Achievement Rock Star

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana

When the Lauri Wade, Counselor at Kerrick Elementary School in Louisville, tweeted “Best day ever!” along with her student’s photo, she could never have imagined the chain of events that would occur.

The photo of her 5th grade student, Dallas, dressed as the JA BizTown utility Meter Reader, showed a young man whose face just beamed from the experience he was having in the learning laboratory. Within a few hours, the JA of Kentuckiana staff determined that Dallas should be on the cover of the 2017 Annual Report, which was a single day away from being sent to the printer.

 JA staff sent an email to the JA  BizTown teacher liaison asking the  school to try to obtain permission  from Dallas’ parents. After a flurry of  late night emails, the teacher  reported back that Dallas’ aunt gave  this permission. The graphic  designer scrambled to change the  cover and the printed annual report  was delivered two weeks later.

When JA of Kentuckiana president Debra Hoffer took copies to Dallas’ classroom, Ms. Wade pulled her aside and said, “You know, he almost didn’t get to come because of his behavior. I had to bring him in my car.” When Dallas was handed the annual report, he let out a loud, “Yay!” All of his classmates surrounded him and, rather than being left behind and forgotten, he is now a rock star.

Imagine if we could empower a generation to transform “I can’t” into “I can.” We can. Together.

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