Author: Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana
Published: Thursday, 25 Feb 2021
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?
SB: I am currently the Principal at Ireland Elementary School. Before this position, I was an elementary teacher for 18 years.
JA: Are you a Junior Achievement Alum. If so, tell us about your Junior Achievement experience when you were a student.
SB: JA was part of my personal education throughout my childhood years in the Jasper Schools. I loved learning about our community, job opportunities, finances, business, and much more through community partnerships. During my years at JHS, I participated in the Junior Achievement program that was held after-school. Our task was to build a business, sell products (door-to-door), maintain financial stability, meet productivity goals, and much more. This real-life experience was truly valuable in helping me learn some important life skills. I remember my leaders that came after their work hours to help our JA group and to make a difference in our lives. For the record, I still have the card rack, paper towel holder, and dice game that we made. Thanks, JA, for this experience!
JA: How long have you hosted Junior Achievement programs in your classroom/at your school?
SB:18 years. I believe we had it at Ireland every year that I was there.
JA: Why did you initially choose to have Junior Achievement programs in your classroom/at your school?
SB: When it was first introduced to the teachers, we sat down and looked at the curriculum. It didn’t take long to notice that the JA curriculum met many of our Social Studies Indiana Academic Standards. Real-life examples and partnerships are essential to not only bring meaning to our standards, but to also go beyond meeting the standards and provide community connections for our students.
JA: What do you enjoy most about having Junior Achievement programs taught to your students?
SB:I love how our students learn through hands-on experiences with a local business partner. The students thoroughly enjoy the lessons too!
JA: What reason would you give to another educator on why they should have Junior Achievement programs in their classroom?
SB: Not only do the JA sessions have impactful lessons, they are also a great enrichment to take our students beyond our grade-level academic standards. The business partners that teach the lessons are truly wonderful with the students.
JA: How do you feel JA relates to what educators teach in their classrooms?
SB: JA relates to what is taught in the classroom in many ways. JA helps us to provide highly engaging lessons that address standards being taught in each grade level.
JA: What value do you feel a JA volunteer provides you and your students?
SB: By bringing in community and business partners to lead the lessons, our students have the added benefit of seeing how these standards apply to real life in our community. Volunteers help by showing kids how their learning can be helpful in a business environment.
JA: What is one of your favorite JA moments?
SB: When I taught 2nd grade, the students did a donut lesson. They had hands-on learning to try out two different models of efficiency in manufacturing, learning the difference between using an assembly line versus individually made donuts, and students had fun acting as quality control "experts.” The lesson was perfect for the age-level and the students loved it!
When I taught 3rd grade, the students learned about different business zones within a city, planning where to locate new businesses. In another lesson, they had to start a new business within a small group. They had to plan everything out, including how to open and run a restaurant, pay taxes, pay employees, buy supplies, and much more! The students had no budgeting or business model experience, however, at the end of the lesson, they had so much more knowledge about running a business. I was so proud of them!
JA: In what ways has the pandemic changed how JA is being taught in your classroom/at your school?
SB: Our schools aren’t currently allowing visitors in the building due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, the JA program has adapted to provide a virtual learning experience for our students. Teachers had a few options on how the virtual volunteer could deliver the JA lesson. The teachers were excited to continue JA in their classrooms this year even if it will look a little different. The JA program is committed to delivering a quality program to our students, and we are thankful for their dedication and support.