JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Junior Achievements are Newsworthy


The education, health and safety of our students, families, volunteers and partners are our top priority. 

Junior Achievement's leadership and staff know that many Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) stakeholders are concerned about the uncertainty created by COVID-19. We are working with qualified health professionals and organizations to monitor the situation, provide safe learning environments, and share information with key stakeholders. We continue to communicate pertinent information and changes to programming with our audiences.
We are taking all possible precautions to ensure our building is safe and hygienic for our visitors.
Please find more information from the Ohio Department of Health online on preparing for COVID-19.
We recognize that this is an evolving situation. We will continue to stay in close, collaborative contact with our health department and other partners to share information as it becomes available.
Thank you,
Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Treasurer Sprague Unveils Monthly "Compass Award" Program to Honor Excellence in Financial Literacy

Junior Achievement offices across the state of Ohio collectively became the inaugural recipients of the Ohio Treasurer's Compass Award for our dedication to financial literacy education. A representative from the Treasurer's office visited City Hall in JA BizTown to present JA of Central Ohio's award. Below is a press release from Ohio Treasurer, Robert Sprague.

Compass Award presentation at JABT

COLUMBUS – Treasurer Robert Sprague today announced the establishment of the Ohio Treasurer’s Compass Award program. The new monthly recognition program aims to shine a light on organizations, programs, and individuals across Ohio who are working to advance financial literacy and empowerment.

“Throughout Ohio, there are people and organizations moving the needle in the financial literacy space,” said Treasurer Sprague. “The Compass Awards will honor their work and highlight the success they have had in helping others to navigate their way to a bright financial future.”

In addition to making a difference through financial literacy education, Compass Award honorees have a proven record of success in preparing Ohio’s youth for future financial decisions.

Ohio’s eight independent chapters of Junior Achievement have garnered recognition as honorees of the inaugural Compass Awards.

Junior Achievement plays a critical role in the development of youth both here in Ohio and across the country. For more than 100 years, the organization has prepared young people for success through its focus on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career readiness. Through the nearly 50 programs it offers, Junior Achievement chapters support schools by filling instructional gaps in topics that are not part of core subjects.

“We are grateful to Treasurer Sprague for this recognition and to the 7,600+ volunteers across Ohio who help JA empower students to achieve personal success in their career and in life,” said Mike Davis, President of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio.

In Ohio, more than 154,000 K-12 students received more than 1,100,000 hours of education through Junior Achievement programming last school year. Program alumni are significantly more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree and 67% more likely to further their education and receive an advanced degree. Following completion of their education, 88% of Junior Achievement alumni report being satisfied with their eventual career and 90% are confident in their ability to manage money. This latter statistic is exemplified by the fact that nearly half of program alumni manage to pay off their student loan debt within 10 years of graduation, which is a stark contrast to the average of 21 years it typically takes for four-year graduates in the United States.

“Junior Achievement has been at the forefront of financial literacy and career readiness for more than a century,” said Sprague. “Few organizations globally – or here in Ohio – have made such a strong and lasting impact on our young people. Today, more than ever before, Ohio’s chapters of Junior Achievement are helping students blaze a trail toward future success.”

Locations of Ohio’s eight Junior Achievement chapters:


Robert Sprague became Ohio’s 49th Treasurer of State on January 14, 2019, bringing to the office his extensive experience working on financial matters in both the public and private sectors. Under Treasurer Sprague’s direction, the office manages the state’s $20 billion investment and $10 billion debt portfolios, collects and deposits all state revenues, and oversees custodial assets. 

Compass Award logo

Volunteer Spotlight: Ryan Reik

How & when did you first get involved with JA? Ryan Reik

I participated in JA as a 4th grader in the mid-90's. It had such an impact on the way that I viewed business and the world at large that, as an adult, I decided I needed to pay it forward. I have been volunteering with Junior Achievement since 2011 in both central Ohio and Austin, Texas.

What has been your experience with JA?

I started volunteering wherever I was needed at the time. I have done classes from third grade through high school, all over central Ohio. Every class has been not only a memorable experience for me, but I often feel like I learn more than I actually teach!

Why are you passionate about JA?

I am passionate about JA because I feel like there are a large number of relatively basic life skills that kids miss out on due to varying circumstances in their lives. I can go spend my five or six weeks with a group and every single time I see "the lightbulb" turn on when a kid gets it, it brings me a type of happiness I haven't experienced anywhere else.

Why do you choose to volunteer as an individual and also on the Volunteer Champions Committee?

As an individual, I volunteer to give back to a cause that helped shape who I am today. If I can help make one child's future even the slightest bit brighter, I have succeeded.

I participate as a member of the VCC committee because the most important part of being a leader is leading by example. With varying degrees of success, I am always trying to recruit new volunteers to help out here in central Ohio and I think the best way to influence that is completely immersing myself in the JA experience.

Favorite JA moment?

I started teaching down at Columbus Scioto in 2016. I was teaching two 7th grade classes in the spring and it was painfully evident that everyone was ready for summer. One student was particularly distant and hard to reach. He'd fall asleep while I was teaching, sometimes was disruptive but I could tell he had a good head on his shoulders and was bright. The 2017 school year rolls around and I get a message from Ms. Mazur at Scioto letting me know that the now 8th grade student had, on multiple occasions, asked if/when I'd be coming back to teach them again. There have been few moments in my life that I have smiled that big! And moments like that are why I will always be a champion and volunteer for Junior Achievement.

Announcing 2019 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Laureates

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) is pleased to announce the newest Laureates to be inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame are Nick Akins, Chairman, President, & CEO of American Electric Power and Jim Merkel, CEO of Rockbridge.

Nick Akins  Jim Merkel

Nick leads one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the country and has been a driving force in the transition to a cleaner energy future with a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the customers it serves. Nick also gives back to the community by leading successful campaigns for the YWCA Columbus and the United Way of Central Ohio, and through service on three local nonprofit boards – OhioHealth Corporation, The Columbus Partnership and the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.

Rockbridge CEO Jim Merkel has two decades of experience building hospitality, investment, and operating brands. Jim’s passion and vision extend beyond the investment world and drive a strong commitment by Rockbridge to making a difference in the communities in which it operates. Through Jim’s leadership, Rockbridge has provided volunteers and significant funding to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pelotonia, cancer research, and many other.  Jim has also held several industry and philanthropic board positions.

Join us in welcoming Nick and Jim at the 2019 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame dinner, which will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Thursday, November 21, from 5:30 – 8:00pm. This will be our Centennial Celebration, marking 100 years since the establishment of Junior Achievement. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available online.

About Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame: Each year’s inductees are nominated and selected by past Laureates for their business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, community mindedness, vision and innovation, and inspiring leadership. New Laureates are inducted during dinner and a ceremony. During the ceremony, awards are presented to a Volunteer of the Year and an Educator of the Year, as well.

About Junior Achievement: Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) imagines a future where each new generation of students is inspired and prepared to achieve personal success in their career and in life. We honor Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Laureates as role models who inspire tomorrow’s leaders, including the 30,865 students we served in 2018-2019 school year with our career-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy programs.

Presenting Sponsor

Volunteer of the Year Award Sponsor


Meet John Ness, JA of Central Ohio's Board Chair

John Ness, CEO of ODW Logistics, is a long-time JA volunteer, a JA alumnus, and Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s newest Board Chair. We sat down with John and asked him about his experience with JA as a student, a volunteer, and as a parent. John Ness at ODW Logistics' JA BizTown shop

How & when did you first get involved with JA?

I recall a JA experience my Junior year at Upper Arlington High School.  It was a great experience because one of my football coaches taught the class, the topic was very interesting to me and we sold t-shirts for a small profit!  Approximately 25 years later, my wife signed me up as a parent volunteer at JA BizTown with my son’s 5th grade class.  I’ll never forget that day.  Jack’s team was outstanding.  The CFO ran payroll like a seasoned accountant and at one point I caught my son with his feet crossed on the chair reading the JA BizTown newspaper! Sure enough his engagement returned when he realized his shop was going to be short of paying back their loan.  The team rallied and made $2.00 profit that day.  Life lessons were everywhere and my son and I discovered a love for talking about business.

What has been your child(children's) experience with JA?

All four of my children have enjoyed JA BizTown, including my youngest who also attended JA BizTown summer camp.  They have all really enjoyed their experience and JA BizTown earns regular top ranking in “favorite memories of 5th grade at Tremont Elementary.”  Three out of 4 were shop CEO’s which has created a bit of healthy competition at home.  They love it because the experience broadens their minds, challenges them to think about their future, teaches them practical lessons about life and IT’S FUN! 

Why are you passionate about JA?

JA’s mission resonates deeply with my values.  The mission is to prepare students—all students, to be successful in life.  JA engages students from all walks of life and teaches them the value of good decision-making, financial literacy and helps them dream about what they can become.  It is a powerful formula.  More so, JA connects the education system and the business community together—JA understands that today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and it is wonderfully positioned to meet the needs of both systems in our economy.  The Columbus regional impact of JA is 30,000 students strong and growing.  That is powerful and brings scale to make a difference to make our community better.  JA’s mission is one that more in our community need to know about. When we tell people, the response is really compelling.

You not only volunteer as an individual, but also with your team at ODW Logistics.  Can you talk about that experience?

It is good and important to serve together with your team at work.  Serving others eliminates titles and roles, and creates new work groups that have shared experiences.  The [JA BizTown] day is long and can be exhausting, but it is a ton of fun and brings lots of smiles and laughs.   

Favorite JA moment?

The morning after her JA BizTown experience, I was talking with my youngest daughter Ellie about her day.  As she recapped her favorite parts of the day, I told her I was headed back to JA for a board meeting.  She looked at me and asked what the board does.  I told her that our primary job is to make JA BizTown the best it can be.  She paused, looked at me and said, “How can BizTown get any better?!?”  It made my day!


From JA Student to JA Teacher

In high school, Deja Reid participated in our high school internship program, JA Leadership Academy. Now an Ohio State student and future educator, Dejar attended JA BizTown this past school year as a student teacher. Below, Deja shared more about her experience with JA and her plans for the future. Deja Reid

1. Where are you from?

I am originally from New Haven, Connecticut but have lived in Columbus, Ohio for over 10 years. I went to Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) for high school.

2. What was your involvement with JA?

As a high school sophomore and senior, I participated in the Junior Achievement Leadership Academy. In addition to running one of the BizTown shops, I also gained exposure to central Ohio businesses through our trips to various business headquarters such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Cardinal Health. I also was a junior counselor during JA BizTown Summer Camp for two summers. In 2015, I emceed the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame dinner, and in 2017, I spoke on behalf of Junior Achievement at the Columbus Women in Digital Conference.

3. What has JA meant to you?

One of the biggest takeaways from my time at JA was my growth in confidence. If I had known as a high school sophomore that I would soon be the emcee for an event with hundreds of business professionals and CEOs in attendance, I first wouldn’t believe it, then I would be terrified. Even as I was nervous on stage, knowing that Pete and the rest of the Junior Achievement staff believed in my ability to emcee the event empowered me to continue to pushing myself to speak in front of large groups. My confidence grew not just in front of large crowds but also in one-on-one conversations. The practice I received in conversations with business professionals, students, and teachers helped shaped conversations I’ve had even to this day. In addition to my development of soft skills, I also learned a great deal about personal finances through BizTown. I had never written a check or balanced a check book but I learned these skills through helping the BizTown students.

4. What are you doing these days?

I am beginning my junior year at The Ohio State University majoring in Middle Childhood Education. I am a scholars student in Mount Leadership Society at the university. I hold a student position as a Diversity Ambassador Captain in Ohio State Undergraduate Admissions where I aid in efforts to increase the populations of underrepresented students at the university.

5. Future plans?

My long term goal is to become a school teacher after I graduated college. In the near future, I plan to continue my involvement in programs and opportunities that aid in the education of students both inside and out of the classroom.


Casino Night Set for May 9 at The Grand Event Center in Grandview

Casino Night Set for May 9 at The Grand Event Center in Grandview
10th Annual event benefits Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIOApril 12 , 2019  The 10th Annual Casino Night, benefiting Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, will be held from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9th at The Grand Event Center located at 820 Goodale Blvd, Columbus, Ohio 43212

For ten years, title sponsor Pepper Construction has supported the event alongside more than 50 leading businesses and 250 attendees to raise funds for Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio.  This fun-filled Casino Night features heavy hors d'oeuvres, delicious cocktails and thrilling casino games brought to you by Black Diamond Casino Events.   

Since its inception, the event has raised funds to support more than 7,500 students benefitting from JA programs.  This year's event will increase that number by thousands with additional presenting sponsors like Chemcote, Double Eight Fire Protection, BrightView Landscape, Combs Interior Specialists, WF Bolin Company, Freeland Contracting Co., Kraft Electric and Telecommunications Services, Regal Plumbing and Heating Company, Roehrenbeck Electric Inc. and VMI Group Inc.

Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-centraloh/ja-casino-night   Additional corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Pepper Ohio is an enthusiastic supporter of Junior Achievement, whose positive results are well documented (JA Alumni Report).

  • JA alumni earn 20% more than their peers
  • 88% of alumni are satisfied with their career
  • 90% are confident in their ability to manage money
  • They are 143% more likely to be involved in entrepreneurship

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio has seen a 13% average annual growth in number of students served in the last eight years. In the 2017-2018 school year, they taught 28,023 elementary, middle, and high school students across central Ohio about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career readiness. 

View press release here.

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio 

Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio is an affiliate of JA USA – the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers. Their programs provide relevant hands-on experiences that give kids from kindergarten to high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness.

Pepper Construction of Ohio
Pepper Ohio is on the forefront of new markets and innovation, leading the industry in high performance and lean construction, as well as virtual technologies that deliver real value. With comprehensive teams in Columbus and Cincinnati, Pepper serves clients across the Region in markets such as higher education, healthcare, workplace, warehouse and distribution, manufacturing and light industrial, retail, data centers, entertainment and hospitality among others. Among the firm's current and recent projects are Kenyon College, Highland District Hospital and IKEA at Polaris.


Jane Grote Abell & Jordan Miller Join Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame

Jane Grote Abell, Chairwoman of the Board, Donatos Pizza, and Jordan A. Miller, Jr., Regional Chairman, Fifth Third Bank, Central Ohio, were selected by their peers to become the newest laureates of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s Business Hall of Fame. 

For thirty-one years, the Business Hall of Fame has honored central Ohio community leaders who demonstrate business excellence, courageous thinking and action, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, and community mindedness – Jane and Jordan embody all of these qualities. 

Today’s Leaders Inspiring Leaders of Tomorrow 

A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane Grote Abell currently holds the title of Chairwoman of the Board. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. 

After McDonald’s purchased Donatos in 1999, Jane was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back in 2003. Following the buyback, she led the company through a $10.5 million turnaround.

In 2012, Jane co-founded the Reeb Avenue Center, a social-services center housing 14 non-profits that focus on education and workforce development which has been recognized as a national social services model.

Jane serves as a member of the Columbus Partnership and the Otterbein Women's Leadership Advisory Council and sits on the Boards for the Reeb Avenue Center, Action for Children and Experience Columbus among others.

 Jane was also featured in CBS’s hit series Undercover Boss where she donned a disguise and went undercover in Donatos restaurants. In 2015, she released her first book THE MISSING PIECE: Doing Business the Donatos Way.

Jordan A. Miller is regional chairman of Fifth Third Bank (Central Ohio). He leads the Bank’s local advisory board and supports efforts to expand business while maintaining a significant commitment to civic leadership and customer interests. Over the past 20 years with Fifth Third, he has served as regional president, president of Fifth Third Securities Inc., and senior vice president and manager of Fifth Third Investment Advisors (Cincinnati). He started his career as a bank examiner with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Miller served in the Air Force and earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland in College Park. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of community leadership from Franklin University in Columbus in 2013. 

He serves on the board of Columbus Regional Airport Authority, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Columbus Metropolitan Library. He is chairman of Central Ohio’s 2018-19 United Way campaign. 

He is a member of the Columbus Partnership, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland – Columbus Business Advisory Council, Ohio Banking Commission, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Columbus City Schools Finance and Appropriations Committee. 

Jordan A Miller Jr

Event Details

This year the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame will take place the evening of Thursday, November 29, 2018 at The Greater Columbus Convention Center, Short North Ballroom. The event will begin at 5:30 PM and end at 8:00 PM. All proceeds from the Hall of Fame will benefit Junior Achievement of Central Ohio and help to create real-world experiences that teach kids in central Ohio financial literacy, ignite an entrepreneurial way of thinking, and build skills for success in careers and in life.


Three New JA BizTown Storefronts Open this Year!

JA BizTown’s first week of the 2017-2018 school year started Monday, September 25th and now offers three new career pathways for students experience. Thanks to Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio’s sponsors, Franklin University, Kroger, and Pepper Construction, students have the opportunity to experience jobs in academia, traditional retail, and skilled trade respectively.

On September 20th JA of Central Ohio’s staff and board members celebrated the expansion with a ribbon cutting, and were joined by leadership from all three shops and several other JA BizTown companies as well.

"We are excited about being a new member of the JA BizTown family. We partner with JA because of the kind of experiential learning kids get here - the world-class learning about business, working in teams, and many other 21st century skills, students are acquiring these abilities right here in the JA BizTown facility."

-Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and Provost, Franklin University

Franklin University, Kroger, and Pepper Construction join 14 other Columbus businesses such as Cardinal Health, Huntington, Donatos, IGS, and the Columbus Foundation to help prepare kids in central Ohio for the business of life. This year, JA of Central Ohio will serve over 28,000 students. More than 14,000 of those students will go through the JA BizTown program – learning money management, developing communication skills, and practicing problem solving.

Ohio State Students Mentor JA Company Program Students This Summer

“Practice makes perfect.”  “We learn from failure.”  “Try, try again.

We have all heard these clichés but we also know there is truth to them. We learn from our experiences, yet we don’t often get to practice at life and business. Junior Achievement (JA) programs strive to instill confidence in kids by having them practice the business of life through activities focused on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness skills. The JA Company Program hits all three of those categories, and, by allowing high school students the opportunity to build their own business, the JA Company Program provides the ultimate “practice ground” for launching a start-up.

While normally run during the school year, this summer JA of Central Ohio is partnering with The Past Foundation to hold a summer camp implementing the JA Company Program on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning June 6th. The ideas, products, companies, and revenue created in this program are all real but the students have mentors on-hand to guide them through market research, business structure, management and leadership, marketing, sales, supply chain management, and finance. This is where students from The Ohio State University have stepped in to help.

With entrepreneurship growing in central Ohio the past several years, Ohio State has begun several programs and classes surrounding entrepreneurship and innovation which is producing business savvy students. Cole Morris is one of these students who will be a mentor during JA’s summer program.

“As a peer mentor, I’m able to share advice and resources directly with the kids that are more actionable; instead of giving the “big picture” answer and telling the students the overall summary of their journey, I can help them navigate each stepping stone with advice tailored to their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations as young adults,” said Morris.

While pursuing finance and data analytics at Ohio State, Morris has also been through the fundamental development phases of starting a business at least three times – providing him the opportunity to interact with small business owners, venture capitalists, accelerators, and more within the Columbus entrepreneurial community. He is looking forward to sharing this knowledge with the summer camp students to help them progress to the next step with their company.

Ibrahim Mohmed is another Ohio State student who will serve as a mentor during the summer camp. Through his personal business (IFAA), Mohmed has already been involved with the The Wellington School JA Company Program*, but is excited to work with more high school kids this summer to help them and their ideas grow.

“Starting and learning how to operate a company is one of the hardest things to do, but it is so beneficial. It will push these kids out of their comfort zones, teach them to be independent, and to learn from their mistakes,” said Mohmed.

If you have a high school student, definitely consider registering them for this summer’s JA Company Program camp, because remember:

“Practice makes perfect.”     “We learn from failure.”     “Try, try again.

Pictures from when the Russian students visited The Wellington School

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*The Wellington School students, in partnership with JA of Central Ohio and the Columbus International Program, are starting a business with peers from Siberia. In January, the Russian students visited the US and in March the US students visited Russia to continue development of their company. Abe Mohmed and his team at IFAA are helping to create an app for the team and plan to have the beta out at the end of May 2017.

Faith McKiver - How the JA BizTown Internship Inspired Me

Working in the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA BizTown) program was an amazing opportunity.  I first learned about this program through my internship coordinator, Mrs. Diawara.  She piqued my interest in how well she described the program.  She explained that I would learn all about finance, early childhood education, and running a business.  I was intrigued by the opportunity, and I also still needed the required 120 internship hours to graduate.  I thought to myself, what an excellent opportunity!  On the other hand, I was a bit apprehensive about accepting the JA BizTown Internship, because I knew nothing about finance, nor educating younger children.  Today, I am glad that I did not let my apprehensiveness get the best of me!

Through the JA BizTown internship, I learned several things about myself.  I learned how to have fun with children, and how to make the JA BizTown experience more fun for the children.  I also learned the importance of budgeting and saving money.  As a result, I feel better prepared to manage upcoming student loans and scholarship money.

In the fall of 2017, I will begin a new academic journey at the Columbus State Community College.

The JA Biztown internship has given me the confidence to pursue business management as a major.  Furthermore, I am the first person in my family to attend college.

Early on in life, I realized the importance of going to college.  I knew that I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck, or to accrue an excessive amount of debt to attend school.   I simply desire more out of life.  Going to college is a blessing for me.  It is a chance at financial freedom and multiple career opportunities for me as well as my family.  Through my personal experience, I want other students, (including the JA BizTown students), to see me, and to know that they can accomplish any academic or career goal they desire. I strive to be a positive role model for all students.

Happy International Women's Day!

Women of JACO

Today is International Women’s Day so I thought I would highlight a women’s initiative here at JA of Central Ohio (JACO) called Women of JACO (WJACO). WJACO is a group of women who gather throughout the year to engage and impact local students, network with other female professionals, participate in professional development opportunities, promote their career and industry to local students, and further the mission of Junior Achievement (JA).

Elizabeth Brown 3This last Friday, WJACO hosted a panel discussion titled Championing Women in the Workplace – providing ideas on how to proactively support women in the workplace and how to address gender issues in the office. The rock star panel consisted of Kelley Griesmer from the Columbus Foundation, Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, and Caroline Worley, owner and Co-Founder of Worley Law. WJACO also had the opportunity to host PhD candidate Jill Yavorsky as the moderator. Jill is an expert on patterns and mechanisms of gender inequality in the workplace as well as unequal divisions of labor between men and women in the home. (Who better to guide the conversation!?!)

With Jill’s guidance, the panel answered questions on career advancement, the wage gap, women mentorship, and work-life balance. There was an abundance of great advice, but here are a few of the key takeaways:

Advancing Your Career & the Wage Gap

  1. Be brave for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to call out a gender issue, it will help people recognize it and change.
  2. Negotiate your salary. Ask for promotions and prepare 6 to 12 month plans.
  3. Don’t self-anchor yourself (aka don’t be afraid to brag)

    1. Every couple of months write down your accomplishments
    2. Recommended Book: Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy 

MentorshipJill and Morgan

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – everyone needs a mentor even if you are at the top of your game
  2. When meeting with a mentor:

    1. Set goals
    2. Make Agendas
    3. Talk about challenges in obtaining your goals
    4. Make sure your mentor is committed

  3. Be present for one another, talk about your struggles

Work-Life Balance

  1. Don’t think of it as work-life balance but rather base what you do on your priorities
  2. Don’t overcommit

    1. Recommended Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

  3. Finding the right romantic or marital partner is very important

    1. Be a team
    2. Make sure you are supportive of each other

WJACO puts on several other events throughout the year and is awesome opportunity for professional development and impacting the kids in our community. If you are interested in more information email Amanda Turner at aturner@jacols.org.

Happy International Women’s Day!


From Classroom to Boardroom

Although many who serve on Junior Achievement’s (JA) Board of Directors can claim experience in the classroom as a JA Volunteer, only one has also served in the role of Educator.

Retired in 2015 after 31 years teaching in Dublin City Schools, and currently serving as a Program Specialist in the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Educator Effectiveness, Board member Dee Anna Chickerella brings a unique perspective to her leadership role with JA. Her ability to view programming through the lens of a teacher and her personal knowledge of program implementation from inside the classroom brings immeasurable value to JA.

Dee Anna has worked with JA for almost two decades, first helping to bring JA BizTown to her Chapman Elementary classroom in 1998. She quickly recognized the potential of the program, then called Exchange City, to augment her own teaching and jumped at the chance to serve on JA’s local advisory board and help write program curriculum. She subsequently used JA programming to introduce an extended marketplace project with her school community, one that continues to raise thousands of dollars each year and has supported The Dublin Food Pantry, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Kids ‘n Kamp, and other local nonprofit organizations.

In all, more than 1,800 Chapman Elementary students experienced JA BizTown with “Mrs. Chick.” Today, conversations with former students, many now adults themselves, often center on fond memories of the program.

“Every 5th grader that ever went to BizTown always left with a sense of pride in the work they had done and the accomplishments of their business. Years later, they always want to remind me what job they had, how much they learned about money, and how grown up they felt,” said Dee Anna.

In her Board work today, Dee Anna is guided by her understanding of the challenges teachers face on a daily basis. Time to teach curriculum while being part of a high-pressure, high-stakes education system is at the top of the list. A tireless advocate for the classroom, she understands the importance of ensuring teachers are comfortable with program content and aware of its alignment with national and state academic teaching standards.

“JA teachers understand that our programs offer authentic learning, open doors for students to learn about careers they might never have known existed, and help them benefit from time with business mentors and role models to whom they would otherwise not have access.”

A role model herself, Dee Anna was named JA’s 2014 Educator of the Year at the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame, where attendees had the opportunity to hear from a few former students about the impact she made on their lives. Students shared memories of their experiences in the classroom and at JA BizTown, but most importantly, about the love of learning she had instilled in them, both in and outside of the classroom.

Today, Dee Anna brings that same level of commitment to her work with JA’s Board and on its Development Committee. President Mike Davis comments,

“Dee Anna is a valuable addition to our leadership team. The insight and experience she brings has helped guide decisions at the most strategic level and ensures that student learning is at the forefront of everything we do.”

Dee Anna is equally motivated by her fellow Board members.

“I’m inspired by the commitment and passion demonstrated every day by my fellow board members. My time has been filled with learning, engagement, and advocating for a program about which I am passionate. I believe our work is important, and I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling or a better way to help bring critical educational opportunities to students in Central Ohio.”

Dream Big

As a child, Jack Frencho dreamed of being a dentist. Either that or a professional golfer.

Ultimately, his professional aspirations moved in other directions. Building a career in financial services, today he enjoys success as a wealth management advisor for U.S. Bank. However, through his volunteer work with Junior Achievement, Jack also helps empower students in Central Ohio to explore their own passions just as he did – inspiring them to dream big and giving them the confidence to pursue those dreams.

Jack has served as a JA In-Class volunteer since 2011. He especially loves working with the younger grades, perhaps recognizing a bit of himself in the enthusiasm, energy, and inquisitive minds these students bring to his JA sessions. He recently shared an experience teaching in a 2nd grade classroom, in which one young boy expressed his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, starting his own company, and then selling it after it became successful.

“To dream like this in second grade! I continue to be amazed every day by these students. It gives me confidence that we – teachers, volunteers, parents, and guardians – are doing the right things for our children.”

JA volunteerHonored in 2014 as Junior Achievement of Central Ohio’s Volunteer of the Year, Jack has personally worked with over 300 students. “Jack is an incredible individual,” says JA In-Class Program Manager Stephanie Patton. “Whether he is in a suburban or inner city school, whatever the setting, he has the unique ability to connect with every one of his students. It’s telling that every teacher he has ever volunteered for has requested to have him back.”

In addition to his teaching, Jack has found ways to impact even more students with JA programming, serving as a guest trainer to help prepare new volunteers for their experience in the classroom. He also currently serves on JA’s Volunteer Champions Committee, through which he actively recruits other volunteers at U.S. Bank and other organizations.

He credits U.S. Bank for their support of his involvement with JA.

“U.S. Bank has been a terrific supporter of JA in allowing me the flexibility to teach multiple classes. As a member of U.S. Bank’s Employee Development Network, I have a platform from which to share my experiences and engage colleagues to participate. Today’s environment offers multiple options for employees to share their time, talent, and treasure, and I continue to promote JA as one to always consider.”

U.S. Bank has also been generous in their financial support through the U.S. Bank Foundation and sponsorship of the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame event.

Jack is emphatic that he gets as much out of his volunteer experiences as do his students. “Each time I teach a class, I learn something new and fresh, and it usually comes from the students themselves. My experience with JA reinforces that being a teacher of children is critical to everyone’s future. The “real” teachers are amazing, patient, and compassionate, and I’m grateful to contribute to the learning that happens in their classrooms.”


How to Give Back In Your Business

TRUE Studios provides free headshots.

How do you use your talents or resources to give back to the community? I just learned of a video studio that uses their skills to provide free professional headshots.

TRUE Studios is a video production company in Columbus, Ohio that brings creativity and goodness together. Principal and Creative Director, Brian Caiazza, founded TRUE Studios in 2000 – wanting to create a company that was passionate about what they did but also focused on giving back to people. In this spirit, Brian started advertising complimentary professional headshots. What does a free headshot come with? TRUE Studios provides a 10-15 minute studio photo shoot on a black or white background, basic photo retouching and editing for one photo, and three to five great images of you to download. Also remember, this is a free, no strings attached offer!

[caption id="attachment_248" align="alignleft" width="147"]professional headshot My professional headshot by TRUE studios.[/caption]

After seeing it on Facebook I decided to try it out and could not be happier with the product. You do not want to pass this up, because not only will you get a great professional picture to help brand yourself in the business community but it is also a great networking opportunity – Brian has over 15 years of marketing and creative communications experience, so take a minute to get to know him.

In Junior Achievement one of our main pillars is career readiness and includes teaching about professionalism. In an age of social media, your online brand is incredibly important and part of that is a having professional photo. Now a headshot in front of a white or black screen may not be for you, think about what you do and how you want to represent yourself. However, for many in the corporate community this type of professional headshot can make a great first impression on current and future employers. So a big thank you to TRUE Studios for helping people put their best foot forward and for demonstrating how to use your talents and resources to give back to the community.

Check out TRUE Studios to schedule your photoshoot.

Volunteering and its Effect on Office Culture

Volunteering is more than giving time and money at EY – it is their culture.

Their tagline, “Building a better working world”, encourages community involvement. Volunteering with organizations such as Junior Achievement (JA) is one of the ways they connect to the community.

“Volunteering is a daily thing at EY and whenever I talk to someone who has volunteered for a JA In-Class program they always have a big smile on their face as they describe how much they connected to the kids and the kids connected to them,” said Matt Napier, Assurance Senior at EY and JA Volunteer Champion.

How to engage employees in volunteering

Matt started at EY two years ago and heard of JA through the office’s weekly email which communicates different volunteer needs along with office updates.

“I volunteered for the Economics for Success JA In-Class program and I loved it so much I approached Tammy Izzo [EY Central Region Government and Public Sector Leader and JA Board Member] on how I could get more involved,” said Matt, “So I joined the JA Volunteer Champion Committee and became the JA Office Champion, meaning I am responsible for dispersing any information about JA as soon as possible to EY staff.”

An office volunteer champion is a common model for offices to maintain nonprofit relations and promote volunteerism among employees. EY has also incorporated several other tactics, through Matt’s help, such as hosting lunch and learns with JA staff, making sure JA opportunities are consistently in their weekly email, providing incentives for financial giving, e.g. jean day, and including JA volunteer opportunities on employee onboarding days.

[caption id="attachment_226" align="alignnone" width="1024"]ey-volunteers EY employees volunteer to help get JA BizTown ready before students start to attend.[/caption]

EY also sponsors the annual "EY Connect Day" where employees from each EY office spend one day in their community volunteering at a variety of different nonprofits. For JA this could mean participating in JA In-A-Day where volunteers team up and teach all five sessions of a particular JA Program in one day or helping in the administrative offices at JA.

Benefits of having employees volunteer

Studies have shown that volunteering can potentially increase employee productivity, company pride, gratitude in the work environment, and ethical behavior.

One EY volunteer, Alex Criss, described her experience as very rewarding.

“Teaching the JA class helped me develop a number of skills. It was good practice for how to prepare for and give a presentation to a specific audience. I also gained time management skills by managing how to fit each session’s materials into a 45-minute class period,” said Alex.

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There are also team building benefits to volunteering for a JA In-Class program. A new JA campaign initiative, Bring-A-Friend, encourages volunteers to co-teach by either teaching sessions together or splitting the sessions between themselves. EY Volunteer Jesslyn Patel volunteered with her co-worker Kate Pelini [hyperlink to Kate’s article] and commented,

“It was a great way to get an opportunity to bond with a fellow EY member that does not serve in the same service line that I do. I don’t see my friend Kate often, but knowing that I could see her once a week was always exciting!”

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So moral of the story, volunteer!

“I’m so glad I took this opportunity.  It was something I always looked forward to each week, and it was always a nice way to change up the work week! You’ll learn a lot more about yourself than you think through the way you teach, and getting to share life skills with them and see the wheels turning in their minds makes it so worthwhile.” – Kate Pelini.

Junior Achievement's Leadership Academy

What are the benefits of having an internship in High School?

  • Higher confidence?
  • Help deciding a college major?
  • Or perhaps just learning the basics of what it means to be a professional?

All of these reasons are why Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio, along with the help of the Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), decided to create the JA Leadership Academy. In 2014 and 2015 JA started working with students from CAHS to help run JA BizTown, a simulation where fifth grade students run a miniature city for the day, but it wasn’t until 2016 when the JA Leadership Academy was formed.

"In November of 2015 I met with Samantha Smith, the internship coordinator at CAHS, to discuss how we could use this experience of volunteering at JA BizTown to better prepare students for life after high school,” said Pete Crozier, Vice President of JA Capstone Programs and JA Leadership Academy Founder. “In a brainstorming session we wrote down what skills the students needed once out of school and the different kinds of activities to provide those skills."

The JA Leadership Academy program sets out to teach its interns public speaking skills, career success, and a healthy understanding of risk and failure while building students’ confidence along the way.

"We don’t know what types of environments these students will encounter or what experiences they will have, but we want them to have the confidence to handle any situation – whether that means not being afraid to ask for help or taking a risk," said Crozier.

[caption id="attachment_198" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]group-pic-2 JA Leadership Academy Interns during their visit to Cardinal Health.[/caption]

CAHS students are able to participate in the JA Leadership Academy because of the CAHSmic Internship eXperience, a program allowing juniors and seniors to attend an unpaid internship each Wednesday between early October and late April in lieu of attending school.

“This time spent on an internship is invaluable. It provides a structured environment for students to explore career fields or to engage their communities in unique and often needed ways, as well as providing students a better understanding of themselves, what it is that drives them,” said CAHS Internship Coordinator, Samantha Smith.

For example, first year intern and CAHS senior Anthony Wolff wants to go to school and become a teacher. However, he wanted to make sure he actually enjoyed working with kids before deciding if that would be his major. Good news, his favorite part of JA Leadership Academy is working with kids!

“It has allowed me to interact with students of different ages and backgrounds which taught me patience but has also increased my eagerness to become a teacher!” said Wolff.

Tatyana Payne, second year intern and CAHS Senior, discovered working with kids all day was not what she would want to do for her career. However, she learned that she is a good problem solver.

“There was a day at JA BizTown where several of my students only spoke Spanish. I know very little Spanish so to ensure they still received help and a good experience I took out my phone and used Google Translate to communicate with them,” she said.

Now that is ingenuity!

Volunteering their time at JA BizTown, CAHS students hone their interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and problem solving skills.

Mrs. Smith commented, “I have seen timid students who at the beginning of their junior year were unable to make direct eye contact when speaking transform to bold, bubbly people at the end of their internship.”

In fact, two of the interns, Amber Owens and Quoran Knights, spoke in front of over 400 people at this year’s Hall of Fame, as they introduced the Educator of the Year – their very own Internship Coordinator, Mrs. Smith. Deja Reid also presented on behalf of JA in front of 300 people at a Women in Tech conference this past fall.

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In addition to helping run JA BizTown shops, the interns also visit several companies/organizations throughout the year to learn about different career paths and industries available to them. Some of those trips included visiting CD 102.5, City Hall, and Cardinal Health.

If you know of any opportunities for JA Leadership Academy interns to learn more about your career or industry please contact Pete Crozier at pcrozier@jacols.org. Or if you would like to partner with CAHS and their CAHSmic Internship eXperience they are currently looking for after-school or summer opportunities. You can contact Samantha Smith at ssmith2@columbus.k12.oh.us for more information.

2016 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame

Honoring the leaders of today, who inspire the leaders of tomorrow. 

On November 29, 2016, Junior Achievement, along with the business community, honored the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame’s two newest Laureates: Dr. Steve Allen, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Alex Fischer, CEO and President of Columbus Partnership.

Joining a distinguished group of noted Central Ohio business and community leaders, the two were selected by past Laureates based on criteria including demonstrated business excellence, visionary and innovative leadership, and community involvement. In the selection process, past Laureates praised Fischer as a “shepherd, integrator, thought leader, and true leader of leaders.” Allen was noted for his focused, caring, and collaborative leadership.”

The induction was co-hosted by elementary, middle, and high school JA students whose skilled presentations to over 400 people provided those in attendance a glimpse of the positive impact of JA programming.

Also honored that evening were Volunteer of the year Roger Madison, Founder and CEO of iZania, and Educator of the Year Samantha Smith, Internship Coordinator at Columbus Alternative High School.

“I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what I do well, and the children we serve certainly need the programs that JA offers. The fulfillment for me is far greater than any compensation I could receive…I want to thank the kids I worked with for letting me be a part of getting them ready for the business of life,” spoke Roger Madison upon receiving his award.

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In a highlight of the event, the two Laureates joined Cristo Rey High School senior Arturo Vallejo and JA Board Chair Dwight Smith for a panel discussion regarding leadership and the community’s role in guiding future leaders. Vallejo participated in the JA Company Program and Dwight Smith is a JA alumnus and founder of Sophisticated Systems, Inc. Following are excerpts from that engaging and informative dialogue.

[caption id="attachment_146" align="aligncenter" width="5071"]panel-alex-speaking-2 From left to right: Dr. Steve Allen, CEO of Nationwide, Arturo Vallejo, Cristo Rey High School Senior, Alex Fischer, CEO and President of the Columbus Partnership, Dwight Smith, Founder, President, and CEO of Sophisticated Systems Inc.[/caption]

Vallejo: As CEO of a school spirit store, I felt very accountable managing my company’s finances and inventory. As CEO’s yourselves, I’d like to know, what keeps you up at night?

Fischer: I think the responsibilities that go with serving the community and the pressure that you put on yourself to make sure you get it right and are achieving on behalf of those who are relying on you can often be an overwhelming feeling that may jolt you awake in the middle of the night. You want to make sure you don’t disappoint the community that you’re serving, but rather serve it with distinction.

Allen: I have a great deal of confidence in the remarkable people who work at the hospital. What I do worry about is the safety of our patients and our staff. There are many things in a complex environment like contemporary healthcare that can go awry and it’s very important that management leadership has a very intense focus on ensuring that it is safe for everyone who comes in through the doors.

Vallejo: What about when things do go wrong? How do you stay calm when there’s a whole company that’s looking up to you as the leader and things don’t go the way they need to?

Allen: From painful experience, I’ve learned that when things don’t go the way I want, invariably it’s because I did not explain my expectations very clearly. One of the challenges in management is to make sure that staff understands exactly what you expect of them. Of course, if I set up expectations with the staff, I need to follow up and say “How did that go?” If I don’t follow up and hold them accountable, they’ll think I don’t think it’s important. So it’s a two-way interaction.

Fischer: I think curveballs inevitably come your way. You have to fall back on your basic principles and the teams that you’ve built to be able to help you lead in crisis. You have to have confidence that the plans you put in place will see you through an outcome. But you also have to not be so rigid that you’re unable to adjust and make shifts in your strategy as you go along with the unexpected.

Smith: The workplace and job trends are changing at such a dramatic pace, what can we do to be better prepared for the future?

Fischer: As I think about how the world is changing and how quickly that change is coming our way, I think it requires us to think about the preparation of our workforce in different ways. I believe that teamwork is more important today than it was decades ago when single individuals could perhaps get more done. It’s being able to adjust to a world of chaos and know that it’s ok not to know exactly what the answer might look like tomorrow or next week or next year, and be comfortable with that. Making sure that our young students and leaders have the experiences that get them comfortable in those sometimes uncomfortable settings in which the outcome can’t be predicted is very important in this society we’re living in and in which change is happening so rapidly.

Allen: I’d add is that it’s a key job of leadership to articulate a compelling vision that says, “This is where we’re going to go. We may not know the exact roads we’re going to take to get there, but here’s where we’re trying to get to.” I always did better when I believed that leadership had thought this through - it gave me the confidence to be able to deal with whatever came along our way.

Vallejo: As a future leader myself, what is my role in the Columbus Smart City initiative?

Fischer: Smart Cities was a great opportunity for Columbus to compete with 78 cities around the country, and win the ability to demonstrate where the future of mobility and transportation is headed. Whether you’re riding the Smart Bus, buying an electric vehicle, or getting on an autonomous vehicle that’s going to transport you without a driver, there are so many things we’re going to be demonstrating to a world that is watching us. There’s a place in Smart Cities for everybody. Our hope is that all residents of Columbus will begin to think about how they can showcase our city.

Allen: With health care a lot of our business is going to depend on being better able to mine the advanced analytics of all the data that we now can capture and will continue to capture in the future. We’re very excited about how this [Smart City Initiative] will further improve our ability to deliver high quality healthcare to all the children in Franklin County.

Smith: What an appropriate way to honor our current leaders and inspire our future leaders. Thank you, gentlemen, for this discussion.

The 2016 JA of Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame rose over $178,000 which will go toward getting kids ready for the business of life.

Junior Achievement congratulates our two newest Laureates and looks forward to their continued contributions to the Central Ohio community. Save the Date for November 16, 2017 where two more Laureates will be inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame.

[caption id="attachment_144" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]group-shot Congratulations to all of our 2016 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Awardees![/caption]

JA Alumni - Kate Pelini

Why I Give Back

January is JA Alumni month, so we asked Kate Pelini, a JA Alumni and volunteer, to share her experience. Read Pelini's account of her 5th grade JA experience and learn why she gives back now as an EY employee.

As a fifth grader participating in Junior Achievement almost 12 years ago, I will never forget the feeling of craving information that seemed so relevant to real life and what it would be like to be a “grown up.”  The JA program in which I participated focused on entrepreneurial skills – we were learning how to start a company that would make green and yellow car-shaped erasers.  At the end of the program, I remember how receiving that tangible object “our company” was producing was a proud moment for all of us that participated.

That was also the first-time business sparked my interest as a possible career path – at that point in time if someone had suggested to me that I would be an accountant, I don’t think I would have believed them.  But looking back, this was the first exposure I had to anything business-related while in school and it all seemed so logical to me and I looked forward to my time with JA each week.  That is why when the opportunity to be a volunteer with JA presented itself, I was eager to help.  Having such fond memories of my own experience, I hoped I would be able to give a young student the same enthusiasm that I developed over the course of just a few weeks.

The first lesson as a volunteer was somewhat nerve-wracking.  As the time came closer I ey-volunteer-kate-helping-studentrealized I had no idea how I was going to make topics such as credit, budgeting, and insurance seem interesting to 7th graders.  I think the inherent belief, when it comes to these kinds of topics, is that students find them boring, or do not know anything about them, and we as volunteers must start building their skills from the ground up.  It was such a pleasant surprise, and a reminder of how I felt during my own experience, to see so many students get excited about more than just our weekly game, they also had so much of their own knowledge to add to our discussions. They know that things such as budgeting and insurance are real topics that their parents, siblings, and teachers deal with on a regular basis.  It is refreshing to see the students want to be able to participate in those discussions.  It made all the difference in the world for me as a volunteer and I looked forward to each week’s new perspectives.  I can’t wait to teach a new group of students and see more of their passion about taking control of their own finances and futures!

A Teacher's Reflection After JA BizTown

The Power of Kindness

By: 5th Grade Teacher, Belden Leadership School

On Wednesday, December 7th I came with my 5th grade students to JA BizTown and after thinking about the student who had been chosen as mayor I wrote a short reflection on the power of kindness.

I teach 5th grade in Canton, Ohio.  And each year all of the 5th grade students at my school make the two hour trek down I-71 to Columbus to participate in JA BizTown. It is a simulation put on by Junior Achievement where students are adults for the day. An old school has been re-created to resemble a town. While there, students have jobs, go shopping, pay taxes, make deposits and withdraws at the bank and even purchase insurance. Needless to say, it is the highlight of the year for most students.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, there are several things we have to do with students  to prepare. There are lessons to teach on economics, using a checkbook, and entrepreneurship. Students also go through the process of applying and interviewing for jobs. All of the jobs at JA BizTown are selected in this way, except one, the position of mayor. 

In order to be considered for the position of mayor, you must first come to school with a speech prepared on why you are the best candidate for the job. You then give your speech to your homeroom and students vote. This is a sort of “primary” and narrows the field down to four. The four classroom winners then go and give speeches in each of the four fifth grade classrooms and another vote is held. The person with the most votes is then JA BizTown Mayor. 

This year Tiana* was elected by a wide margin. After winning the “primary” round in her homeroom by running uncontested, Tiana went on get the most votes in each and every 5th grade classroom, capturing 50% of the total vote. This surprised me, as I expected (that like in years past) each candidate would get a majority of their homeroom’s votes and the victory would be narrow. When Tiana dominated the election, it made me stop and reflect on why.


You see, Tiana is bright, but definitely not the most intelligent student in the 5th grade. She is a pretty girl, but not one of the girls already being sought after by the boys. Tiana gets along with others, but is not in the self proclaimed “popular crowd.” She does not come from a financially well-off family and therefore is not able to have the newest and nicest fashions. So what was it that caused the landslide victory for Tiana?

I came to the conclusion it was very simple, Tiana is nice. She genuinely has a kind heart. She has the rare ability as a 5th grader to treat all of her classmates the same, regardless of their rung on the social ladder. Tiana shows concern for her classmates when they are upset. She does not join in when children get teased. She speaks to everyone with kind words and appropriate language. 

We are in an election year that has divided our country and pushed them to extreme sides on the right and left like never before. There were two candidates who focused a majority of their energy on why the other candidate was inept and finding all of the negative dirt they could on the other. And I asked myself, yes probably with far too much idealism and not enough reality, but yet I dared to ask it anyways, could future American presidential candidates learn something from the 5th grade Mayor of JA BizTown? 

Could it be that a future presidential candidate  could run on a campaign of kindness? Could a person truly just care about others and want the best for everyone? And in doing this capture the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans? Could they focus on all the good they want to do for all citizens as opposed to finding every fault, both true and created, about their opponent?

I know, I know, this is way too simplistic. There is much more to it than that. But, it sure is a nice thought, isn’t it? And while it may not be a reality for the country, I am going to feel hopeful that the next generation might be the one to see things differently, to see people differently, to want someone who is genuinely kind and good to lead them. Because at least in my little corner of Canton, the 5th graders have spoken loud and clear and proved they prefer a leader who will choose nice over nasty, and that there is power in kindness. 

*name has been changed

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Press Releases

JA USA® Press Releases



  • "I can't think of a better gift for kids than to prepare them for success in the real world." - Aaron Bahe, Columbus City School Teacher

  • "I loved being the mayor of JA BizTown. I now have a good understanding of how busy business can be." - Gabbie Schneider, JA BizTown Student

  • "I loved my job as the CFO! It was so much fun. If I did this everyday it would be great!" - JA BizTown Student

  • "Kids are capable of more than we know. JA is a great way to demonstrate the real life skills they will all need." JA of Central Ohio Volunteer

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