Miss Mulder greets me at the entrance to the kindergarten classroom. I settle into a child-sized chair at the front of a brightly colored floor rug (“The Pretty Rug” as Miss Mulder calls it) and arrange my reading materials. “Good morning!” I say cheerfully to a group of smiling, upturned faces. “Good morning!”responds the enthusiastic chorus. And so starts the first lesson of this semester’s Junior Achievement class.
The Junior Achievement organization has been a part of my life since 1990. First I volunteered to work with teens in the JA Company Program®. Then, for six years, I served on a local JA board of directors. Now, I volunteer by teaching a series of classes from the JA Elementary Program Curriculum. Over the years, stories have unfolded: teens can make tough ethical choices; JA helps students gain entrepreunurial skills to succeed in today’s global work environment; lives are changed. Surely, I’ve learned far more than the students whose lives have intersected with mine.
Having been a board member, I know that each year teachers desiring a JA program in their class go without, because there aren’t enough volunteers. If you have any interest in helping in your community, I urge you to contact your local JA office. There are opportunities to work with any age group, kindergarten through 12th grade. I know from personal experience that the time commitment for the Elementary classes is minimal— it’s 5 visits to the classroom to conduct a 30 – 40 minute session. Personally, I invest about 20 – 30 minutes of prep time prior to my classroom visit. The instructional materials are completely laid out for you in a very easy-to-understand way. The teachers stay in the room with you, so you need not fear about “handling” a class of unruly kids.
Undoubtedly, you’re busy. Aren’t we all? Today when I kicked off the JA Ourselves program to that group of kindergartners, I was given a generous gift in return for my time: 23 young people, at the start of their educational journey, chiming “Thank You, Mrs. Miller!” as I left to start my work day. A handsome payment, indeed.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com © Rosemarie Gearhart