SALISBURY – A local nonprofit is seeking classroom volunteers to deliver educational programs on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.
As the school year begins, officials with Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore are encouraging community members to volunteer for hands-on programs that inspire students to live within their means, prepare the world of work and understand the free enterprise system.
Each year, Junior Achievement recruits volunteers, primarily from the business community, to share their experience with students on subjects such as managing money, career exploration and starting a business. In the process, students see how volunteers used what they learned in school to become successful adults.
“Our research shows that Junior Achievement alumni are more likely to finish high school and complete college because of their JA experience,” said Lisa Thornton, development manager for Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore. “The same research also shows that one in five JA alumni end up working in the same field as their JA volunteer, so the volunteers have a tremendous impact on students.”
Junior Achievement offers programs to students in grades K-12. Volunteers are provided an orientation on how to deliver the programs along with a kit that contains everything they’ll need for the lessons.
“I like to joke that if you can read you can deliver a program …,” Thornton said. “The time commitment is minimal, and we provide training beforehand.”
Officials with Junior Achievement said program materials are hands-on, engaging and simple to use. Visits to the classroom can be as little as 45 minutes and can be arranged at schools near a volunteer’s home or business, or in some cases at their own child’s school.
Thornton noted that Junior Achievement interacts with students between three and five times throughout their school career.
In Worcester County, she said the nonprofit delivers lessons to some kindergarten classes, as well as to all students in grades first through fourth, seventh and eighth.
“Spending habits are ingrained by the time they reach fourth grade,” she said. “So before these financial habits are set, we show them why it’s important to save and budget. It’s important to reach them at a younger age.”
Thornton added that the nonprofit also revisits the students in middle school.
“It’s during a time when they are starting to think about picking high school courses and choosing career paths,” she said.
Thornton explained the importance of having volunteers deliver Junior Achievement programming. She said the experience helps students make connections between what they are learning in school and how it will apply later in life.
“We want students to see these people in the community and what their job looks like …,” she said. “When someone comes into a classroom and explained what they do and how they got there, it gives them a role model to look up to.”
Thornton also highlighted the rewarding experiences for Junior Achievement volunteers.
“It’s really special when they see the students getting it,” she said. “When they relate what they are learning to their own personal life, it makes it all worth it. A lot of volunteers leave feeling like that made a difference, and the kids are also excited because there is someone new in the classroom.”
During the 2018-2019 school year, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore taught 9,463 students in 416 classes with the help of 231 volunteers.
“It’s really easy to volunteer and you don’t need any specific background or experience,” Thornton said.
To get involved this school year, visit https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-easternshore/volunteer-now.