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JA Programs Begin in Baird, Texas

Junior Achievement (JA) is very proud of our economic education programs focused in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Still, we are quick to acknowledge that what makes Junior Achievement special is the use of local volunteers in local schools in order to empower the future! Kelley McLaughlin is no exception.

Kelley McLaughlin of First Bank Texas in Baird jumped at the opportunity to become a JA volunteer this past spring semester. Kelley became the first JA mentor to walk the halls of Baird High School! After an exciting call from JA Alumna, now Baird ISD Counselor – Mrs. Jennifer Bellar, requesting  JA programming at Baird High School last spring, Kelley made the request a reality by bringing JA Personal Finance® to the Senior Economics class taught by Mr. Jeff Campbell.

In describing her experience, Kelley says this:



Kids are far more responsible for their future than when I was a kid. As a parent, banker, and now JA volunteer, I was convicted to put more emphasis on retirement and emergency funds. Still, young people do not think in these ways and I am happy JA gave me the opportunity to bring this to their attention.

This information is so important at the high school level since most 18 year-olds are just beginning. They have a clean slate. We need to warn them against practices that make life difficult. We need to teach them practices that will prepare them for when life happens. No one wants to think about loss of income, loss of a spouse, major illnesses; but that’s life. I hope I taught them how to differentiate between “wants and needs” and how dangerous it is to succumb to instant gratification.

Mr. Campbell added that Junior Achievement was helpful to him as a teacher because it gave him the resource for “the students to obtain a better understanding from someone who is actively a part of the business community in Baird. It helped that [Kelley] had great presentations and supplemental supplies to use with the students that really helped them acquire a greater knowledge of what she was presenting each day. The students and I mutually enjoyed JA Personal Finance.”

When asked why someone ought to consider volunteering, Kelley replied, “Kids are awesome! I had forgotten how much fun they can be. They are eager to learn, creative, and insightful. Personal finance and the best practices are not commonly taught, and I could see the wheels turning in some of the kids’ minds. They wanted to know the information taught in this program!” She added this thought when considering the importance of continuing the JA Personal Finance program at Baird High School next year, “Though most of the kids are more advanced in this area (personal finance) than I was [at their age], some of the concepts were completely foreign to them. As a banker, I can attest that most adults and parents do not practice the concepts taught in this course. If that is not something the kids see from mom and dad, where else would they learn it except for at school?” Now with JA Personal Finance, Kelley has a vehicle through which she can continue teaching financial literacy to Baird’s seniors.

As a result of Junior Achievement’s presence on the Baird High School campus, two students (Garrett Deel and Kara McIntire) applied for and received a scholarship from the Willie I., Wanda, and W.F. Martin Charitable Trust in the amount of $4,000 each, paid out over four years.

Looking ahead, Junior Achievement of Abilene and Baird ISD are excited to introduce three programs in addition to the existing JA Personal Finance program for the upcoming 2015 – 2016 school year: JA Finance Park – Virtual (6th Grade), JA It’s My Future (8th Grade), and JA Career Success (9th Grade).

SIGN-UP NOW to join Kelley in empowering young people as a JA volunteer!

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  • "Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."

    -Junior Achievement Student

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