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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.”

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  • "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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