Original Story from Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
When asked to choose two or three words to describe Junior Achievement (JA), these are the words Piyush Arora came up with, based on his experience volunteering in a 6th grade classroom with JA at Westland Middle School in Bethesda on November 18, 2016.
Arora works for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where he helps government agencies improve their organizational and accounting business processes. Luckily for Arora, at PwC, volunteering and giving back to the community is at the core of the company’s corporate culture and PwC is also a longstanding partner of Junior Achievement.
“I’ve always wanted to participate in programs like Teach for America, but couldn’t find the right mix of time and courage,” said Arora. “Junior Achievement makes this opportunity to teach kids accessible for all adults. And because it breaks this opportunity into bite sized pieces -- a one-day commitment and a choice of teaming up with a partner -- it was the perfect way for me to test the waters and determine if the skills and personality needed to teach and teach kids is right for me.”
And test the waters he did. He quickly learned what it takes to command a classroom for an entire day and gained a new respect for teachers everywhere.
“What I found the most challenging about this experience was just the skillset and energy it takes to teach 6th graders,” said Arora. “I felt pretty helpless a few times, especially towards the second half of the day, when the class was getting tired and I could see some students slipping away. But with that said, these challenges provided me with thoughts and ideas that will help me be better next time.”
Challenges of the day aside, Arora said that his favorite part of the day were “the moments where the lesson, the students, and I connected.”
“The questions they asked that tied their personal experiences with the lessons were so fascinating,” said Arora. “And perhaps more importantly, the excitement that they portrayed when engaging in even the most simple of activities like the choice game – whereby, I offered them two choices: Twix or M&Ms, and they would stand or sit to vote for their favorite chocolate, was really great.”
Arora claims that the structure of the JA lessons and the materials offered to volunteers took some of the pressure off of him as he led the classroom and helped to calm his nerves.