JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

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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.

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.

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.

Mayor

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

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.

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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.

sully

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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  • "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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