JA In The News | Junior Achievement USA

JA Principles Overcome Favorable Exchange Rate

The vital money-management lessons taught in Junior Achievement programs know no boundaries. A recent situation shared by Linda Strosnider, area program coordinator from Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana, proves that to be true.

Fisnik (Nik) Daci is from Oslo, Norway. Although Nik was born in Norway, he is quite proud of his Albanian heritage. His parents escaped Albania’s political conflict years ago and moved to Switzerland, before settling in Norway. Nik has spent his senior year of high school as a foreign exchange student in Washington, Ind. at Washington Catholic High School (WCHS). While at WCHS, Nik, an avid soccer fan, played on the school’s soccer team. He fit in very well with the students and is well-known for his respect for adults. His classmates have accepted the outgoing classmate with open arms.

According to Strosnider, Nik’s host family became concerned, however, as he generally spent between $200 and $300 each time the family visited the mall. The student found the prices to be so inexpensive when compared to his home country, that he could hardly control himself. All of that changed, though, after he completed JA Personal Finance®.

Strosnider taught Nik’s class a couple of the sessions. She said, “One of my teaching points was recognizing the difference between a want and a need. I explained that I taught my own children that the ‘needs’ require first consideration when thinking about financial budgeting. The ‘wants’ may be considered after all other financial obligations have been taken care of—if there is any money left over. However, once in while it is OK to splurge, perhaps to celebrate a special occasion.”

Shortly after the conclusion of the JA Personal Finance program, Nik and his host family made one last trip to the mall for Christmas shopping. This time Nik stated he was “not going to buy anything today.” He said he really didn’t need anything and was going to start saving his money for the things he would need in the future. His host family was relieved by his new financial discipline.

“Nik will return home in early June. Hopefully he will take his newfound financial knowledge with him and apply it to his adult life,” said Strosnider.

Student Thank You Cards Inspire

For many Junior Achievement volunteers, the initial anxiety of standing before a classroom of students is more than rewarded by the gratitude of grateful students. Such inspirational appreciation is often why volunteers are willing to return to the classroom again and again.

Randal Mays, president of Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail in Fort Worth, Texas, recently provided several charming examples of student-created thank you cards given to their JA teacher, Jenny Senter. Senter also serves as director of education for JA of the Chisholm Trail. According to Mays, Senter had just completed the fourth grade JA Our Region program for students at Northbrook Elementary in Fort Worth. On the last day of class, the students presented Senter with thank you cards they created.

One student wrote: “You are the best Junior Achievement teacher we have ever had. You tought  us a lot. Our brain is filled with knowledge. Before you started, our brains were small. After you finished they were large.”

Another student wrote: “Thank you Mrs. Senter. Thank you for giving us knowledge, for in the future, we will now know everything.”

A third student wrote: “Thank you Mrs. Senter for all the wisdom you have gave us.” (The thank-you note included the following illustration.)

The Brain:   Before Junior Achievement – 30 percent

After Junior Achievement – 100 percent

Finally, one student recapped the experience this way: “Thank you Mrs. Senter because you taught me a lot with money. So if I have money or, have a job, I now know everything.”

Mays summed up the meaning of the cards. “Nothing says the value of JA better than the kids!”

Politicians Use Bipartisan Approach to Encourage JA Student

Platts and Obama

(Article first published on Oct. 30, 2012.)

As the long political campaign season comes to a close in the next week, it is nice to see politicians reaching across the aisle to benefit students. Tom Russell, president of Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania, shared a story about how Junior Achievement was recently on the mind of the President of the United States.

Congressman Todd Platts, a Republican representing Pennsylvania’s 19th congressional district, was recently recognized for his service on his local JA board of directors. In Rep. Platts’ acceptance remarks, he told a story about his oldest son, T.J., and his involvement with JA BizTown®. Following in his father’s political footsteps, T.J. decided to run for mayor of JA BizTown.

JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully-interactive, simulated town facility. Students like T.J. operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor of JA BizTown. The program helps students connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world.

The morning of T.J.’s election, Rep. Platts was at a bill signing at the White House. While chatting with one of President Obama’s staff members, he commented that he was “anxious about the election being held that day.” Of course, it was not an official election day, so the staff member looked perplexed. Rep. Platts proceeded to explain how his son, T.J., was running for mayor of JA BizTown.

A while later, when Rep. Platts was in a meeting with President Obama, the President asked the Congressman to relay his best wishes to T.J. The staff member had told the President about T.J.’s election. Two weeks later, Rep. Platts returned to the White House for another meeting, and during one of the breaks, President Obama asked who had won the election. The Congressman explained that T.J. had come in second and was the deputy mayor during their day at JA BizTown. The President told Rep. Platts to tell T.J. that he didn’t win his first campaign either.

Later that day, the Congressman introduced his family to President Obama. As T.J. shook the President’s hand, President Obama told T.J. to stay determined and to follow his dreams.

Deployed Soldier Continues JA Commitment Overseas


For some, inclement weather or sluggish traffic may be enough to cancel a commitment.  For William Hurd, not even a dangerous military deployment, 7,578 miles’ distance, ornine-and-a-half hours’ time difference could keep him from contacting his Junior Achievement students at Spanish Fort High School in Southern Alabama.

Prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, Captain Hurd led students in Dianne Bernasconi’s Family and Consumer Science class through the JA Success Skills® curriculum for two years. JA Success Skills provides engaging, academically enriching, and experiential learning sessions in work-readiness education and career perspectives.

Beginning in September, Hurd began using a video conferencing application on his smart phone to contact students from a secure location in Afghanistan. Hurd was able to demonstrate live from the field the importance of communication and motivation as well as some of the tough decisions that leaders have to make in crucial times.

The students are grateful for the program and their volunteer. Chloe Dasinger, a student in Ms. Bernasconi's class said, "I felt Capt. Hurd was very helpful in the way that he showed us how to manage our careers, family and life after college. The Junior Achievement program also helped us learn how to communicate with others the correct way."

According to Jennifer Hatchett, director of marketing for Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham, Hurd has endeared himself to the teacher and students and has inspired other volunteers with his commitment. She explained, “This is a great example of how volunteers can go above and 


beyond making a difference in a student's life by teaching JA. Volunteers can make a difference by sharing their own story and demonstrating real-world examples of why they need to learn work readiness skills.”

Hurd reflected on his volunteer experience with Junior Achievement. “If my experiences can help at least one of the great students at Spanish Fort High School to open their eyes to opportunities they can create for themselves through the power of knowledge, motivation and dedication, then I know I have succeeded.”

Teacher’s Determination Ensures Real-Life JA Experience

When Title I funding cutbacks threatened the Gillis Elementary School’s annual trip to Houston’s JA Biztown, a resourceful social studies teacher began looking for alternative funding. According to DeJeania Jones, senior director of Capstone Programs for Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas, the teacher’s efforts paid off with a $500 grant from the JA Area.

JA Biztown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully-interactive, simulated town facility. Through daily lessons, hands-on activities, and active participation, students develop a strong understanding of the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in a worldwide economy.

In her grant application letter, teacher Staci Shaver wrote of the importance of JA Biztown for her students. “Out of all of the resources I strive to utilize, Junior Achievement’s JA Biztown has by far been the best. Through the provided course work, JA Biztown enabled me to excite my students about free enterprise, civics, banking, employment, responsibility and good citizenship.”

Thanks to Shaver’s determination, students will leave the mixed pine and hardwood forests of unincorporated Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, and will once again make the 155-mile, 2½-hour drive to Houston for the one-of-a-kind JA Biztown experience.

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