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National Volunteer Month – Alan Stevenson & Earle Lusk

Our Junior Achievement Volunteer Experience

Alan:    

I am now retired, but I began my Junior Achievement experience during ‘The Great Recession’.  During an unemployment networking meeting, a staff member from the local JA office came to speak to our group asking us to consider ‘giving back’ to the community while we were searching for our next employment opportunity.  It was during this networking meeting that I met my JA classroom teaching partner, Earle Lusk.  We have been a Junior Achievement (JA) classroom volunteer since 2008 and we still volunteer as a team to this day.

Earle:

I first became involved in Junior Achievement over 50 years ago when I was in high school.  At the time JA was only offered at the high school level, and my school’s version was as an after school company program. We elected officers, decided on the name of our company, decided what product to manufacture and sell (aluminum cookie sheets), etc.  Our company “employees” sold stock in our company to raise money to buy materials to manufacture our product.  After selling the cookie sheets, we had our accountant figure out what our revenue was, subtract expenses, and calculate our profit.  It was a good year!  The experience was so rewarding and enlightening that I wound up doing the program for two consecutive years.  It had a positive effect on me and helped shape my future career plans.

Alan:

Earle and I are opposites on everything from politics to education.  I was a Mathematics major and ‘Rocket Scientist’ in my Information Technology programming and management career working in 15 different cities on three continents and moving my wife and three children seven different times.  Earle had a business education and worked as a buyer for a major department store and a national drug store as well as a salesman at a few other companies.  Earle also extensively traveled to Asia as a buyer.  As a result of our JA partnership and mutual respect for one another, Earle and I have become very close friends.  We are a testament to the fact that opposites attract.  In fact, the local JA office refers to us as either “The Odd Couple” or “Dynamic Duo” depending on the point they want to get across.

However, we are of one mind in our support and admiration for Junior Achievement.  Their curriculum is FANTASTIC with a different aspect of financial literacy taught in each grade–K through 12.  The material is taught using videos, lectures, workbooks, exercises and games.  The material is ‘refreshed’ every few years to keep it relevant and up to date with current trends in business and the economy.

As any teacher will tell you, the teacher gets more out of the material than the students.  This is true of Earle and me.  We have learned a great deal over the years. Our ‘reward’ comes in the feedback we get from our listeners—seeing the spark of interest light up within.  More than occasionally, we provide the teachers with information previously unknown to them and in the end we are ‘thanked’ for bringing this material into their classroom because they do not have the time or resources to teach the important concepts we present.

Our favorite module is Grade 5 – Our Nation.  The key messages in this module include entrepreneurship, staying in school to get the STEM skills you need to compete in the global economy and no nation is self-sufficient in all aspects of raw materials production, manufacturing, finance and knowledge.  So, we have to work with one another.

This curriculum highlights key entrepreneurs from the present and the past that had ‘Big Ideas’ and turned them into great success stories; Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Ray Kroc and others like Willis Carrier, a Buffalo engineer who invented air conditioning because he was looking for a solution to remove humidity from printing plants to keep the ink from smearing and Sylvan Goldman, who invented the modern shopping (grocery) cart.

It was in this lesson that Earle and I first learned of Madame C. J. Walker about 10 years ago—truly a remarkable woman with a remarkable story.

Earle: 

Now in 2020, Alan and I have countless stories to tell about JA classroom experiences.  We have been impressed by hard-working students, motivated by the dedicated teachers, and treasure the experience with JA.  Making a difference and helping kids learn about business is sorely needed by our country, and we thank Junior Achievement for allowing us to be involved with that process.

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National Volunteer Month – Tiffany Adams

Senior

Leto High School

Hi!  I’m Tiffany Adams a senior at Leto High School!

Thank you Bank of America for investing in the youth of our community through Junior Achievement.  You have had a presence in my life starting back in 5th grade through my participation at JA BizTown and for the past two years through the Junior Achievement Entrepreneurial Academy.

The volunteers from Bank of America gave me inspiration by sharing their personal stories of their paths to success, giving students insights to all the various jobs that are available to them and for taking high school students business ideas seriously enough to take the time to listen and give feedback to us.  By having this opportunity and “deadlines”, it helped us to focus more on the process thus increasing our understanding of how businesses operate, helping us to learn to work as a team, helping us to problem solve and think innovatively. The experience also pointed out to me that even with the best laid plans sometimes don’t work out causing you to need to pivot and persevere to overcome obstacles. It happens in business and in life!

Through the program, we had job sites visits so we could see firsthand how businesses operate.   For me I enjoyed going to Nielsen’s where I had a chance to see the various ways that company’s use technology which is something I would like to do in

Junior Achievement also gave me an opportunity to do mock interviews with Publix which resulted in me getting a job there.  So I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Junior Achievement volunteers who gave me this opportunity.  You have made a difference in my life as well as many others by providing us with real life experiences that help us shape our professional and personal futures.

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National Volunteer Month – Karla Newan

Area HR Manager

IBERIABANK

How many years have you been volunteering for JA?

At least 10 years

In what capacity?

I’ve been a classroom volunteer, board member (2019-2020) and corporate liaison (Florida Bank).

How did you first become involved with Junior Achievement?

About 10 years ago my former company was looking for volunteers so I signed up.  I have been able to introduce JA to two other companies since that time.

Why do you volunteer for Junior Achievement?

I enjoy working with children and teaching about financial literacy as well as giving back to my community!

What programs?

I have facilitaed the JA Financial Literacy curriculum in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades as well as a High School program.  I also volunteered at the Inspire Job Fair in Pinellas County and Enterprise Village & JA Biz Town.

Why do you think it’s important to teach children about work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship?

To add some additional awareness to how money is earned, spent and saved for their future.  Also we talk about entrepreneurship and how they can find a career they will love!

What benefits do you see for the students having a JA Volunteer come into their classroom? How do you know you are making an impact on the students? 

JA offers hands on training for students of all ages to learn more about money, career, life experience and their future!  I know I make an impact when students are excited to go home and show their family what they learned!

Any fun JA volunteer stories that you have to share about volunteering for Junior Achievement?

This is a hard one as I have many stories.  One of my favorite was when I was teaching 3rd graders and I had one student who did not want to participate (sat with head on his desk).  Once I asked him to help me pass things out he lit up!  He really enjoyed the session and thanked me with a big hug!

What are the rewards of volunteering for Junior Achievement? Your favorite part? 

There are several rewards in volunteering for JA but the one I like the most is seeing the children have fun learning about finances!

What kind of rewards do you see for your company by allowing their employees to volunteer for Junior Achievement? What do your employees say about volunteering for Junior Achievement?

Since I work for a bank we not only get personal reward for volunteering but we also get CRA credit.  My fellow employee love their time volunteering.

 

I was raised in St Petersburg, Florida and attended college at SPJC and USF.   My Human Resources career started 33 years ago.  I am married with 2 grown sons and 2 loving dogs!  I serve on the Tampa Bay JA Board.  I also serve on a local ski club board for over 10 years (TBSS&B).  My hobbies are paddle-boarding, volunteering, family and skiing (snow skiing that is). I have skied both domestically (Big Sky, Vail, Steamboat, etc.) and internationally (Japan, France, Italy, Banff to name a few). 

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National Volunteer Month – Bob Perini

Manager, Data Center Services

PSCU

How many years have you been volunteering for JA?

Just over 20 years; 14 of them at Northeast High School’s Academy of Finance.

In what capacity?

Classroom volunteer.

How did you first become involved with Junior Achievement?

My first experience was at the Great American Teach-in with Kindergarten students.

Why do you volunteer for Junior Achievement?

I love working with kids.  They are our future and I think I can help them look at things with a different mindset.

What programs?

I’ve presented Career Success Skills and its predecessor for the past 14 years.

Why do you think it’s important to teach children about work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship? 

Many of these subjects are not taught in the current academic curriculum and offer the students an opportunity to learn from experienced business people with real-life knowledge which will help them relate.

What benefits do you see for the students having a JA Volunteer come into their classroom? How do you know you are making an impact on the students?

Students get the benefit of business people sharing their experiences and knowledge within the platform of the program they teach. When the students become fully engaged and interact with both the volunteer and each other, it is obvious that the lessons have impact. Typically, a volunteer starts to see this near the completion of the program.

Any fun JA volunteer stories that you have to share about volunteering for Junior Achievement?

In the Career Success Skills program, students must build a building with a limited amount of index cards and paper clips. The imagination and competition to achieve the highest and sturdiest building is both fun and enlightening.  The whole class gets into this project as the different teams compete to be the best within the timeline they are given.  Talk about combining tactical skills with creativity and critical thinking!

What are the rewards of volunteering for Junior Achievement?  Your favorite part?

Watching the students start to really understand that learning can be fun and adventurous as well as seeing students become more engaged as the program progresses. I invite coworkers to come and perform mock interviews with all of the students and the students are scared, yet confident.  It is a wonder to see how well they actually do in the interviews.

What kind of rewards do you see for your company by allowing their employees to volunteer for Junior Achievement?  What do your employees say about volunteering for Junior Achievement? 

PSCU provides up to 17 hours of volunteer time for all employees. Our workforce has a high percentage of volunteers.  Every mentor or program presenter expresses the same point: they love the students willingness to learn and grow.  During our mock interviews, which we’ve done for over 12 years, employees approach the coordinator and want to participate.  This speaks volumes for the program and its impact to both students and volunteers.

My name is Bob Perini and I’ve worked at PSCU for over 30 years. I started with JA during American Teach-in and haven’t stopped for just over 20 years.  In 2003, Northeast High School started the NAF Academy of Finance and I’ve presented the Career Success Skill program from that time forward.

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National Volunteer Month – Kristen Laramore

Communications Employee Engagement and Community Outreach

CITI

How many years have you been volunteering for JA?

6 years altogether; 2 years in Texas and 4 years in Florida.

In what capacity?

Classroom volunteer, board member, corporate liaison, school liaison coordinator.

How did you first become involved with Junior Achievement?

A former employer in Texas introduced me to Junior Achievement. This was the first company I had worked for that strongly encouraged their staff to volunteer in their communities. Leadership led by example which was inspirational to me. I have been volunteering ever since!

Why do you volunteer for Junior Achievement?

Financial education is important for every individual, regardless of their demographic. JA provides relevant programs for both primary- and secondary-age students that are EASY to teach. Training, materials and classroom coordination are all provided by JA. As a volunteer, you only need to give your time.

What programs?

Our Families; Our Community; Diploma-See; Personal Finance; Biz Town; Finance Park.

Why do you think it’s important to teach children about work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship? 

All of these factors can be intertwined. People tend to focus on income as the one solution to all financial situations. JA brings to light additional factors that can impact an individual’s financial security. For example: What types of careers require higher education? What are average salaries for these careers? What is the true cost of living besides lodging, transportation and food? What is the difference between a NEED and a WANT? JA provides realistic, fundamental programming to shape, inspire and support children who may not otherwise have the exposure to this knowledge.

What benefits do you see for the students having a JA Volunteer come into their classroom? 

Not all students can afford to attend off-site programs that charge a fee to participate. Classrooms can provide a safe, secure environment when meeting a new individual. It also serves as a nice break from routine for both the teachers and the students.

How do you know you are making an impact on the students?

When students are engaged in discussions, answering questions, providing suggestions, and sharing stories, I feel the content is hitting home for them. They are relating their real-life experiences to the lesson(s).

I’m always amused when I am teaching Personal Finance to the high schoolers… Watching their jaws “hit the floor” during budgeting exercises can be quite entertaining. The reality of understanding what it costs to support a household of 1 or 4 can be daunting once these factors set in.  Then credit scores are factored into the mix and life just got real for many of these students!

Any fun JA volunteer stories that you have to share about volunteering for Junior Achievement?

DEFINITELY!

Much of my volunteer efforts focus on a specific Title I school in Hillsborough County. While volunteering at Biz Town I met a very bright young lady in the 5th grade, from this same school. She and I had a positive connection as we shared jokes about “adulting” and her CFO responsibilities for the day. She was bright, witty and respectful. At the end of the day, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for the help. After Biz Town, I continued volunteering at her school for the next 2 years. She would see me in the hallway, wave, and joke, “Not YOU again!” with a big smile. In 2019, she and I connected again through JA. This time she was attending Finance Park as an 8th grade student. At the end of the day, she asked if we could take a picture together. She said she really enjoyed seeing me again and thanked me for volunteering. Many of these students just need some consistency to believe that someone truly cares for them. DON’T STOP VOLUNTEERING!

What are the rewards of volunteering for Junior Achievement?  Your favorite part? 

First and foremost, for me, it is all about the human connection. Many of these students may not get exposure to people outside of their family, their neighborhoods, and their schools. I hope that I make a positive impact on these students’ future decisions about education, career prospects and a basic understanding of finances. My favorite part is when I get HUGS from the students! It’s a wonderful experience!

What kind of rewards do you see for your company by allowing their employees to volunteer for Junior Achievement?  What do your employees say about volunteering for Junior Achievement? 

Many of us have hear the saying that volunteering is addictive. It’s true. Allowing employees to volunteer for JA not only helps these students, their families and their schools but it also adds to the corporate culture to show that we are caring for our communities, our neighborhoods… where we live and work!

Employees have shared with me that they feel that they are providing valuable and relevant lessons to every individual. They are teaching someone to fish.

Kristen Laramore works at Citi where she focuses on employee engagement, diversity and communications. She works closely with external partners in the Tampa Bay area in support of Citi’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. A native of Fort Worth, Texas she has more than 25 years of experience in the financial industry.    

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