Have you ever wanted to try teaching?
Even without a degree and license, you can give it a shot as a volunteer with Junior Achievement. The nonprofit strives to connect the knowledge students gain in school to life, and their futures. The goal is to teach the financial literacy skills needed to succeed in a global economy and prepare students for college, careers and entrepreneurship.
Lessons are delivered in classrooms by visitors during the regular school day.
In Hutchinson, Junior Achievement volunteers teach at Hutchinson Public Schools in kindergarten through sixth grade and at St. Anastasia Catholic School.
“A volunteer goes into a classroom for five sessions,” said Megan Karg, chair of the local Junior Achievement Board.
Those sessions may happen in five days or be spread out based on the needs of the classroom teacher’s curriculum. Last year, Karg taught second-graders about jobs in a community and about how money works its way through a community each day.
“They got to have their own donut shop where they produced donuts,” Karg said. “They went through and learned what makes a good product.”
The exercise also included lessons on government.
“I’ve done fourth grade the last three or four years,” said William “Bo” Young, local vice chair. “Ours was Business and Global Economy.”
One lesson showed students how an earthquake in one country can impact the entire supply chain.
“Kids learn how big that impact can be, because they cannot get their goods,” Young said. “Kids get engaged in the process.”
Students don’t begin with such international concerns in Junior Achievement, however. Starting in kindergarten, lessons focus on “Ourselves” and grow from there each year, first to “Our Families,” and then to “Our Community,” “Our City,” “Our Region” and so on.
A capstone in Junior Achievement comes in fifth grade.
“They essentially run a city for a day,” Karg said.
At BizTown in Maplewood, a miniature town has been constructed indoors, along with storefronts, streets, streetlights, a mayor’s office, computers and plenty of work to do. Students attend BizTown with their classmates, and everyone has a job.
“They have a CFO, a CEO, bank tellers, a mayor, reporters, an advertising rep.,” Young said. “Kids have an assignment for the day.”
“It is literally a little community,” Karg said. “It’s a busy day.”
Students work, save and spend money, write budgets, write checks, fill orders, vote and buy snacks for break. At the end of the day, the hustle and bustle of BizTown is meant to give students an appreciation of how money and work interacts across a whole community.
“It’s trying to teach them some financial literacy,” Young said.
LOOKING TO GROW
While Junior Acheivement has been a staple presence in Hutchinson for years, it was mostly on haiatus for a few years recently — though some volunteers kept on teaching. Starting last year, volunteers passionate for the mission gave Junior Achievement a new boost, and started work to grow the program again.
They hope that with enough volunteers and money to purchase curriculum materials, Junior Achievement can grow to add more local grade levels and schools to bolster the 4.9 million students who participate in the United States each year. Each kit costs $220.
“I remember being taught at my grade school,” Young said. “When the opportunity came up to be a volunteer in the classroom, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, so I said OK, I can be a teacher for an hour for five days.”
“Junior Achievement was not part of my classroom, but coming from SouthPoint, financial literacy is a big part of the credit union,” Karg said. “Part of what we do in the communtiy is financial education.”
Last year was her first time teaching in a classroom, and she found the students love to see the volunteer teacher return each week.
“It’s amazing what they remember from last week,” she said.
Volunteers are given books and a kit that lays out all the material they need to know. The time commitment includes an hour, maximum, of teaching time for each of the five lessons, and prep time.
“For someone looking to volunteer, I’d say you are committing to a good five to eight hours of your time,” Karg said.
“You work with the teacher to coordinate the timeline,” Young said.
The board hopes to have volunteers lined up by the end of November to plan the year out. Lessons will start no sooner than January.