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Educator Spotlight of the Month: December 2021


Image caption: December 2021 Spotlight: Ben Lawalin

Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana gives a spotlight to a local educator every month by publishing an in-depth interview about their JA experience.

JA: What grade do you teach & where?

BL: I am the principal at Lincoln Trail Elementary in Lamar, Indiana.  Lincoln Trail is part of the North Spencer County School Corporation. 

JA: Are you a Junior Achievement Alum. If so, tell us about your Junior Achievement experience when you were a student.

BL: I am not.  I did not hear about Junior Achievement until I became an administrator.  That being said, we have been using JA for many years now. 

JA: How long have you hosted Junior Achievement programs in your classroom/school?

BL: We have added Junior Achievement to our curriculum for about 10 years now.  We have used different formats during this time.  Everything from once a month lessons to JA in a Day, even virtual lessons. 

JA: Why did you initially choose to have Junior Achievement programs in your classroom/school?

BL: We were/are excited about partnering with professionals in our community to learn about personal finance.  Sometimes kids hearing about things from outside sources can spark an interest in a way that cannot be replicated just by reading text in a book.  Through JA, our students have been exposed to new career opportunities and it allows local businesses to work with kids, which is rewarding in itself! 

JA: What do you enjoy most about having Junior Achievement programs taught to your students?

BL: Financial literacy is something that everyone needs to learn.  JA allows us to meet these academic standards in a unique way.  Each year the program builds on concepts, so after several years of this program, hopefully our students will be prepared to better manage their money and make good decisions to put themselves in a better position for their future. 

JA: What reason would you give to another educator on why they should have Junior Achievement programs in their classroom/school?

BL: I would say the best reason is that JA allows you to partner with people in your community.  Local businesses have an interest in our schools, and as such, they can offer supports to help prepare kids for the workforce and life after school. 

JA: How do you feel JA relates to what you/other educators teach in the classroom?

BL: Our state standards have a financial literacy component, which we use JA to teach.  This lessens the burden on teachers and reduces the overall number of standards they are responsible to find resources to teach. 

JA: What value do you feel a JA volunteer provides you and your students?

BL: The JA curriculum is student centered and fun!  We never have any trouble with engagement and the students enjoy having a guest teacher for the day! 

JA: What is one of your favorite JA moments?

BL: I love to hear from the volunteer teachers.  They too get a unique perspective and an appreciation for what teachers do!  It doesn’t take them long to see how taxing teaching is, and how many decisions you have to make in a short amount of time. 

JA: In what ways has the pandemic changed how JA is being taught in your classroom/school?

BL: We had to do virtual JA due to not having volunteers in the school.  Like everything else in schools, face to face is a much better format.  The magic of teaching happens when instructors can watch the faces of the students, check to see what they are understanding, and then adjust based on what you have seen/learned.  That cannot be replicated by a robot or through a computer screen. 

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