Junior Achievement program offers students life lessons
Published 6:00 am Friday, November 10, 2000
“Saving is a discipline.
You’ve got to make yourself do it,” said Junior Achievementvolunteer Terry Britt to a group of Loyd Star ninth gradersrecently.
Britt was making his regular weekly visit to the classroom aspart of the state’s Junior Achievement program, which educates andinspires young people to value free enterprise, business andeconomics.
“It gives them an appreciation for what’s ahead of them, whattheir parents do for them and what they can do for themselves,”Britt said. “Even though they’re in the ninth grade, it gets themto start thinking now.”
Junior Achievement is the world’s largest and fastest growingnon-profit economic education organization. The program consists ofstudy on a variety of topics from investments to insurance to checkwriting to using credit wisely.
“It’s a broad spectrum. It just opens up their (students) eyes alittle bit,” said Britt.
Budgets, saving, spending and family management were the maintopics discussed this week at Loyd Star.
“You need to save as much as you can to prepare for those rainydays,” he told students.
Britt showed the students how to form a budget, live from thebudget and handle any surprises that may arise that would affectthe budget.
“Every family is unique, but every family faces budgets,” headded. “You have to budget as a family and give and take as afamily. The children have a say-so, but the mom and dad have thefinal say.”
In addition to bringing the free enterprise system to life inthe classroom, JA programs teach youngsters the importance ofstaying in school. Students in grades K-12 are given ageappropriate materials to help them.
In Lincoln County, programs offered include personal economics,the economics of staying in school and the elementary schoolprogram.
As a supplement to social studies, personal economics helpsstudents assess their personal skills and interests, explore careeroptions, learn job-hunting skills and discover the value of aneducation.
In the Economics of Staying in School, students learn the valueof education and early goal setting. They explore the personal andsocietal impact of not completing a high school education.
The Elementary School Program is designed to help studentsunderstand the roles of “individual”, “worker” and “consumer.”
The state’s program reaches over 30,000 students yearly withteachers in over 1,300 classrooms in 30 counties using the programswith remarkable success.
Gene Britt has welcomed program volunteers into his classroomfor the past five years. The majority of the volunteers arebusiness people who know the ins and outs of economics, hesaid.
“They know economics and the jobs that are available out there,”said Britt.
He likes the program because it gives students practicaltraining they can use throughout their lifetimes.
“The first-hand experience makes it a lot different. They learnwhat they don’t get sometimes in school. Real life is a lotdifferent than what they tell you about,” said Britt. “This teachesreal life . . . what it takes to survive later on.”
The students like the program because they learn skills they canuse right now.
“We learn how to use money and how to spend it on the things weneed and not what we want,” said Andrew Montgomery, student.
Ben McKenzie added, “It teaches us respect for our parents. Weneed to help them anyway we can because we will be in their sameposition one day.”
Junior Achievement programs are taught by local businesscommunity volunteers who are given materials that include thescheduled activities and are trained by the JA staff before they gointo the classroom.
JA’s more than 1,400 classroom volunteers come from all walks oflife and include business people, parents, college students, highschool students and retirees. These individuals contribute morethan 10,000 hours of their time to Junior Achievement eachyear.
Britt, who has been volunteering for the past five years, enjoysbeing able to interact with the students and share the knowledge hehas learned over the years.
“I enjoy teaching. It gets the students aware of what they canaccomplish and what they will face,” said Britt.