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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.

2013 Teens & Careers Survey

2013 Teens & Careers Survey

Today's teens want to pursue careers that will provide both financial rewards and job satisfaction. To gauge teens' perspectives on their ideal careers and what steps they will need to get on their desired career path, Junior Achievement USA and the ING Foundation recently conducted their 12th annual Teens & Careers Survey.

JA Alumnus Pays It Forward

Maine Pic In August 2012, Junior Achievement of Maine provided support services at the Great State of Maine Air Show as a unique fundraising activity. The money raised goes to providing financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurial programs to students in kindergarten through 12th grade throughout the state of Maine. Ann Goodenow, area board operations director for Junior Achievement of Maine, recently shared an experience that demonstrates the power of JA programs. As JA Area board members from Mid Coast Maine and students volunteered at the air show, a man involved with the show’s communications revealed his JA roots.

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Fiorito was the youngest of four children and felt alone as older siblings left home and as a close childhood friend moved away. As he searched for an activity to fill his time, he was approached to join the local JA Company Program® his freshman year of high school. Through the program, students organize and operate an actual business enterprise and learn about how businesses function and the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system. 

Fiorito’s advisor helped the student group develop a unique business venture: a 13-week television show. The students developed the program, which showcased famous personalities in the area, including ventriloquist Shari Lewis, television star Fred Gywnn (Herman Munster), former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench, actor James Brolin, actor George Clooney’s parents and the former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Sam Wyche. Through the project, Fiorito and his team members learned about “cold calling” to sell advertising time and other business aspects of television production. Fiorito said that at the year-end banquet Junior Achievement of Cincinnati gave out a number of awards and proudly announced his group “blew the doors off” other projects.

Fast forward to 2012. Fiorito now works for Time Warner Cable and is in charge of field technicians. Today, Fiorito follows many air shows around the eastern United States working with Continental Air Show Productions, which is the production company behind some of the country’s most spectacular air shows. At the end of the third day of the air show fundraiser, student volunteers were treated to an impromptu job shadow experience they will likely never forget when the Thunderbirds communication team came over and gave all the students headsets so they could listen to the pilots during flight. Fiorito talked to the students throughout the show, explaining what they were hearing, where the planes were coming from and more.

Fiorito credits his time working with the JA Company Program for his success today. As a JA alumnus, Fiorito has nothing but praise for Junior Achievement programs and firmly believes in their power to provide needed education in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

“If not for Junior Achievement, I don’t know where I would have received the foundation to launch my career and the guidance and direction to keep going,” Fiorito said.

JA BizTown Leaves Lasting Impression on Students

JA Finance Park_Edward JonesThe JA Capstone facility located on the campus of Broward College is often packed with upbeat sounds from hundreds of students at JA BizTown or JA Finance Park. Each day, it’s not unusual to receive positive feedback along the lines of, “Our students get so excited to come here,” “The kids had a great time,” or “This is the best field trip of the year.”

Recently, however, Patricia Moncrieffe, lead teacher from Dania Elementary in Dania Beach, Fla., had something special to report after she brought her students back to school. In her third term as lead teacher for the project, she ensured all students were well prepared this year. 

John Nowak, project director for Junior Achievement of South Florida in Miami, Fla., shared the email he received from Patricia, which affirms the impact Junior Achievement has on young people.

“Thank you so very much for the wonderful day we had at JA BizTown. My children had a blast; they are still talking about it. The amazing thing is, it's not just fun, idle talk, but they are talking about the process of running the business—what they learned, what they should have done differently, how they could have maximized their sales, etc. My kids are actually having meaningful conversations about running businesses. It was so pleasant and enjoyable for my children,” Patricia concluded.

Florida Students Benefit from Dedicated Team

WickedWoopiePies ClassThose rousing cheers from central Florida may not be from “The Swamp.”  Drive about nine miles west on SW 24th Avenue in Gainesville and you may find the source of real excitement is coming from the engaged fifth grade students at Queen of Peace Catholic Academy (QPA). Thanks to a powerful team of JA teachers and a dedicated volunteer, students are preparing themselves for successful futures through the JA Our Nation program.

JA Our Nation is Junior Achievement’s fifth-grade program that provides practical information about businesses’ need for individuals who can meet the demands of the job market, including high-growth, high-demand jobs. The program introduces the need for students to be entrepreneurial in their thinking. According to Diane Smith, executive director of Junior Achievement of Alachua County, JA volunteer David Hanson recently shared his JA experience at QPA. “It was a great seeing how excited the students were every week when I entered the classroom,” Hanson said. “I am amazed at how bright these fifth graders are! They came up with great innovative ideas, and I envision all of them making a difference in the future. They are smart, and I find it very rewarding to see the innovation and ideas formulate in their minds.”

Hanson used the entrepreneurial success story of “Wicked Whoopie Pies” to illustrate coursework principles. Founder Amy Bouchard, a homemaker from Gardiner, Maine, is a profitable entrepreneur who is whipping up more than 7,000 of her Wicked Whoopie pies a day. Bouchard was contacted by Hanson when he started teaching the JA program. Bouchard believes in Junior Achievement’s philosophy and donated one of her delicious pies to each student. She sent the pies to Florida so the students could enjoy the sweets while learning about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

“What a great way to end five informative sessions together, by sharing a product that came from a vision, and reinforced everything we have learned this year in Junior Achievement! I value the time that I have spent with the fifth grade, and I look forward to the opportunity of teaching JA again next year,” Hanson concluded.

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