PITTSTON TWP. — Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania will observe its 50th anniversary this fall, celebrating its service to thousands of young people through programs focused on three key areas — entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness.
Junior Achievement provided programs to over 12,500 students this school year both at the JA Mericle Family Center for Enterprise Education in Pittston Township and in classrooms throughout the region.
Melissa Turlip, president of Junior Achievement NEPA, said the current state-of-the-art facility opened in 2007.
“Junior Achievement programs are critical to helping students understand personal finance, the importance of setting goals and achieving them, and the rewards of hard work,” Turlip said. “Students learn about careers and how to apply their skills, interests and abilities to a career path to ensure they are successful as an adult.”
And the program’s outcomes are impressive:
• Junior Achievement prepares students to develop successful financial management habits, empowers them to explore the potential of becoming an aspiring entrepreneur, and provides them with the skills necessary to succeed in a global workforce.
• External evaluations found that overall, elementary students who participated in JA began thinking about how the things they learned will be important later in life.
• A significant amount of middle school students developed or improved their entrepreneurial, leadership, and decision-making skills. Furthermore, middle school students gained knowledge of financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.
• High school students who participated in JA agreed that what they learned in the classroom is important to the success of their futures.
• Research to date indicates that students engaged in JA are able to connect classroom lessons with real-life experiences.
The JA BizTown program is for students in grades 5 and 6 and combines 12 in-classroom, teacher-taught lessons with a day-long experience at the center, and a one-lesson follow up after the visit. Students learn about the businesses and jobs within the facility, select three jobs of interest, and the classroom teachers select their job for the visit day.
Prior to arriving, students work as a business team and determine their business costs, create advertisements, and fill out paperwork for a bank loan to operate their business. During the visit, students get a first day on-the-job experience, and complete tasks to simulate the real working world. They receive paychecks and purchase items to take home as souvenirs of their visit.
The other program offered at the center is JA Finance Park, designed for students in grades 7 to 12. It also consists of 12 teacher-taught lessons, a daylong visit to the center and a one-lesson follow up. In this program, students learn about careers, budgeting, credit, mortgages, and more.
Each student uses a tablet and is given a life scenario which may include a spouse, child or children. They also have a career, annual salary, debt, credit score, and career goals. Based on their life scenario, students determine how much they can afford to spend on a home, transportation, utilities, insurances and more, and they develop an understanding of the expenses related to a household.
“The benefits (of JA Finance Park) for my students are enormous,” said Robert Cardone, ninth grade Family & Consumer Science teacher at Wyoming Valley West. “They are able to see the big picture of household finances. They understand the disparities between families earning different incomes.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.