Junior Achievement is a national nonprofit organization that educates students about financial literacy, business skills and entrepreneurship. Each year, volunteers go into Kodiak’s classrooms to teach five 45-minute lessons to participating classes.
“Junior Achievement is about helping our kids in grades K through 12 become economically successful,” said Frank Peterson, chairman of Kodiak’s Junior Achievement program. This is Peterson’s third year volunteering for the Junior Achievement program.
The five lessons can be spread out over the school year or can be taught in one day, depending on what teachers and volunteers prefer.
Volunteers can start with the basics like teaching kindergarteners the difference between a quarter and a penny, or they can teach older students how to start a business.
Gretchen Wing volunteered for a kindergarten class the last two years. Wing said the students picked up on ways to relate the lessons to real life.
“We learned about money and kids get excited about money,” Wing said. “They would relate the story we read about a carnival to Crab Fest and wanting to spend money at Crab Fest.”
Jennifer Richcreek volunteered in Chiniak for the first time last year, and plans to do it again.
“I taught the basis of how to get things,” Richcreek said. “We talked about wants and needs.”
Each volunteer is armed with a bag of items to help instruct the lesson, including curriculum, pretests and post-tests, although they don’t have to follow the lessons step by step. What has made the program successful in the past has been when volunteers personalize the lessons, Peterson said.
“We learned how a city is made,” Peterson said. “One time I went in wearing my carpenter’s belt. You can make it as much fun as you want.”
This year, Junior Achievement volunteers will travel to Kodiak’s rural villages for a day and will then offer a five-day business intensive for interested students. During the intensive, students will generate ideas for businesses in rural Alaska, and will learn the steps to starting a business. Peterson said this is the first time Junior Achievement has offered the intensive for Kodiak Island students, and it is in partnership with the Engaging Native Learners in Virtual Education Now grant project.
The ENLIVEN grant project was awarded to the Kodiak Island Borough School District to improve education and reduce barriers for Native learners in Kodiak.
Kodiak’s Junior Achievement program is looking for volunteers for this school year. To sign up to volunteer with Junior Achievement in Kodiak, contact Peterson at 486-4449 or visit http://alaska.ja.org/.