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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.”

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.

JA BizTown Summer Camp


Summer of 2016 began with two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp in June. JA BizTown is a simulation where kids in fourth through sixth grades have the opportunity to run a mini-city for the day. Each student has a job that ranges from CEO to Sales Manager or radio DJ to physician. Their goal is to pay off the “business loan” they took out from Huntington Bank by the end of the day. Leading up to the simulation teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons preparing the students for a day at JA BizTown – teaching them how to write a check, the difference between debits and credits, relationship building, and more. Now imagine all of this in one week and you have JA BizTown Summer Camp!

Okay, maybe not exactly. However, the differences are very cool. Having the same kids for an entire week allowed the JA BizTown staff to create a more interactive curriculum and focus on teamwork.

“It’s exciting to have the same kids for five days. It was great to see the kids have the opportunity to build their team throughout the activities,” said JA BizTown Program Manager Diane Betteridge.

With the high-level objectives of teaching kids about entrepreneurship, marketing, customer service, financial literacy, job preparation, philanthropy, teamwork, and personal development, JA BizTown staff brought in speakers, had kids complete projects for non-profit organizations, played out “shark tank” skits, and ran several days of JA BizTown.

A benefit to summer camp is that campers get to go through a two-day-long simulation of running JA BizTown instead of just one. However, before they could run the city they needed to go through some “training”.

ribbonOne of the activities JA BizTown campers participated in was a program called My Special Word, created by JA’s very own Board of Directors Chairman, Dwight Smith. The idea behind My Special Word is to teach students that words are impactful, and using positive words can help inspire, lift you up, and ultimately change how you feel about yourself, others, and the environment. Each camper was given a wristband that said “What is Your Word?” and encouraged to go home and discuss with their family the creation of their special word. The next day, students came back to camp and made a bracelet with their special word on the band. JA is about so much more than financial literacy. A little girl named Lauren lost her mom to cancer last year. She chose the word "ribbon" for her special word because she used to hate seeing cancer ribbons everywhere. She said “ribbon" now served as a reminder to her that it is good to remember the people we love but is are also a message of hope for fighters and survivors. WOW! What an amazing kid!

And there is more. Continuing to teach personal development, JA BizTown Summer Camp instructors brought in non-profit organization My Very Own Blanket to discuss philanthropy. Afterwards, kids worked in their business groups to make blankets for foster children who typically don’t have anything that is their own.

In addition to My Special Word and My Very Own Blanket, JA BizTown campers did learn about financial literacy through games and lessons, along with building miniature cities to learn about community, and participated in job interviews in preparation to run JA BizTown.

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The two most popular jobs are that of the Mayor and radio DJ. Learning about communication skills and public speaking, the kids take part in an election for the two positions, giving speeches on why they are most qualified, leaving their fate up to the voters – JA BizTown citizens. Check out the slideshow to see what their days at JA BizTown looked like including surprise visits from the CD 102.5 ice cream truck and Donatos and Canes for lunch!

On the last day of summer camp, campers were divided into teams and given materials to build a game. Teams then had to create and try to “sell” their game to a panel of JA BizTown instructors – much like the popular tv show Shark Tank. While not as harsh as some of the actual Shark Tank panelists (ahem Kevin O’Leary…), students still learned a lot about entrepreneurship and what it takes to sell a product and build a business.

Check out the below slideshow to get a recap of the two weeks of JA BizTown Summer Camp!



Next year’s JA BizTown summer camp will run the first two weeks of June ( Save the Date: June 5-9 and June 12-16) and is open to students entering fifth through eighth grade in the fall of 2017. Trust me, your kids will not want to miss out! For more information, you can click here or email Pete Crozier at pcrozier@jacols.org.

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.

New Experiences Offered by JA of Central Ohio BizTown

Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown kicked off the 2016-2017 school year on September 28th with Buckeye Valley Middle School. The 77 students that attended were the first to encounter a lot of fun changes to JA BizTown. Over the summer, JA BizTown added three new shops – a Cardinal Health Pharmacy store, Discover store, and a kiosk for Franklin University.


New shops don’t just mean a new look, they also mean new jobs and “life experiences” for JA BizTown citizens. Cardinal Health Pharmacy brought new positions such as a Pharmacist, Pharmacy Technician, and Marketing Director, along with the standard CEO and CFO positions required for every shop. Each job plays an important role to achieve the ultimate goal of paying off the business’s loan which is taken out from Huntington Bank at the beginning of the day. For example, the Pharmacist is responsible for assembling the first aid kits (which are later distributed by the Marketing Director), sorting inventory, and learning directions for the “prescriptions” they will be providing JA BizTown Citizens. The “prescriptions” and first aid kits bring in revenue to go towards paying off the loan. A “prescription” may be needed if a JA BizTown citizen receives a Life Happens card stating that they are ill or have an injury.

Life Happens cards are a new part of JA BizTown to help demonstrate the integration between business and life. Life Happens situations range from illnesses to furthering education. If a citizen receives a card stating that they are ill, they are instructed to go to the Blue Jackets Physician where they receive a prescription that is to be filled at the Cardinal Health Pharmacy. However, a citizen could receive a card directing them to further their education. At this point the student goes to JA BizTown’s new Franklin University kiosk.


The Franklin University Kiosk is run by a volunteer who guides the student through a career interest questionnaire to find out “what they should be when they grow up.” Options include careers in aviation, banking, teaching, and more. Students take a picture in front of a green screen and then have a picture of their “chosen career industry” placed behind them. The picture is printed on the back of a job certificate the student receives, describing the industry and possible career opportunities which the child takes home with them.

“Across the street” from Franklin University is Discover. This new store is JA BizTown’s premier online bank. The shop has a CEO, CFO, Customer Service Representative, Account Executive, and a Sales Manager to run business for a day. Discover provides all JA BizTown citizens with debit cards that allow for direct deposit capabilities – all shops accept cash, check, and debit allowing the student to choose which method they want to use.

JA BizTown will run 130 days this school year, an increase of 16 days from the 2015-2016 school year. JA BizTown, in general, serves fifth grade students; however, it can also encompass grades four and six depending on the school. The interactive simulation of JA BizTown itself takes about four and a half hours, but teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons in their classroom to prepare students for JA BizTown. By the end of the simulation, students should know how to make personal financial decisions and be able to connect their interests and passions to different careers. As Marzooq Nadeem, JA BizTown Mayor from Buckeye Valley Middle School, stated, “[JA BizTown] is one of the most effective ways [students] can learn about the real strategies of everyday life because it’s a hands-on experience.”

Marzooq’s entire speech is available to read here.


A New Way to Volunteer for JA In-Class

Fall is here and Junior Achievement (JA) In-Class 2016-2017 programs have been running for one month. With the JA In-Class team (Mike Fulwider, Stephanie Patton, and Wes Taylor) now fully built out, they are projected to increase the number of students served by JA In-Class programs to over 13,000 students – a 1,400 increase from 2015-2016!

As you can imagine, reaching these additional students requires additional volunteers. Several new programs have been created to help engage more of the community with JA programs. One program is the Volunteer Champions Committee (VCC). The VCC is made up of JA volunteers who work within a corporation or organization and want to help spread the word about Junior Achievement. Most recently, our volunteer champion from EY set up a lunch-and-learn where Stephanie Patton, JA Programs Manager, went in to discuss how JA In-Class programs work. JA In-Class volunteers have the opportunity to impact an entire classroom of students – teaching them about entrepreneurship, budgeting, and how they affect the community around them – things most of us wish we had learned at a younger age, right? JA In-Class allows you to bring all of those skills to the students, so when they think about their future they aren’t wondering, “How does a student loan work?” or “How do I manage to pay rent, a car payment, utilities, and still have money for food?”

All of this can sound intimidating. You might think: “I can’t teach about budgeting” or “I’m nervous to do this by myself.” There is no need to worry about that with JA. We train you for one hour on the program and provide all the materials. If you don’t want to teach by yourself, invite a friend to do it with you. This is another new initiative JA In-Class rolled out this year – the “Bring-A-Friend” campaign. Go through the class with a friend, colleague, or family member to help split the time or not have so many of those first day jitters.

Allison Walker of Columbus Children’s Theatre recently volunteered for her first ever JA In-Class program on October 6th, 2016. She was inspired by JA’s very own Kate Hemleben, Vice President of Operations. Check out her interview below about being a new JA In-Class volunteer.

Why did you volunteer for JA?

I was inspired by my friend who just started working at JA. The idea of teaching money and responsibility to our youth was so appealing and exciting to me. I mean, I was the young girl who, for fun, made her Barbies and Lego people work jobs and pay rent!

What were/are you most nervous about when volunteering for a JA In-Class Program?

So far, I am most nervous the hour right before teaching each lesson. I always hope that I am communicating the right ideas. Finding the balance between achieving the lesson in 30 minutes and allowing personal expression has been the most intimidating.

Would you have volunteered at first without a friend?

I would not have even known about JA without Kate! It was not an option for me in school. I really enjoy being able to split the experience with another person. It helps to bounce ideas of one another.

Would you volunteer by yourself now?

I would! It is a little difficult with my schedule, but being able to drive to a nearby school to teach for 45 minutes and head straight back to work is really the equivalent of a hearty lunch break.

What is your favorite part of volunteering for a JA In-Class program?

So far, I most enjoy seeing the kids respond to the organized tasks. It makes me feel like we are communicating the lesson plan correctly as we are eliciting the correct responses. It is so satisfying for everyone to raise their hands with the correct answer!

What would you tell someone who is nervous or considering volunteering for a JA In-Class program?

The Bring-A-Friend system is a terrific way to get into the program! A lesson or two with an experienced teacher may help you feel good heading into the classroom, but the thankyous, compliments, and even a couple hugs from a group of first graders will make you feel like a million bucks!

So there you have it – everything you need to know about volunteering for a JA In-Class program!

The second wave of classes begins in January 2017, which is only about two months away! Check out the JA In-Class Programs page on our website and consider volunteering for a class or sign up now! You won’t regret it!

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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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