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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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