Junior Achievement Helps Students Prepare With Real World Skills

FALCONER – Falconer Central School students are getting an education in the global economy, thanks to Junior Achievement.

This time of year many adults opt to have a professional file their taxes for them, for fear that they may be too inexperienced to properly file their own taxes.

Imagine how confused a fresh-out-of-college or high school student might feel filing their own.

This is simply one example of why Cathy Moots, home and careers teacher at Falconer, believes that students are never too young to learn about financial literacy.

To help teach Falconer students, Moots sought the aid of Junior Achievement.

“Junior Achievement is an organization that helps students set career goals, teach budgeting, financial literacy and free enterprise,” said Moots. “It’s geared toward helping students learn how the economy works and how to use the economy to achieve goals.”

Moots went on to discuss how Junior Achievement, which has a regional headquarters in Buffalo, uses local volunteers who discuss career options and planning with students. In return, the students get the opportunity to ask the volunteer questions about financial and economic aspects that they might not understand.

“Junior Achievement wants to bring people from the outside into the schools to teach the JA curriculum,” said Moots. “The curriculum is written by professionals and educators, and the JA curriculum is used nationwide, so volunteers aren’t forced to create their own teaching plans. Instead, the volunteers use curriculum which has proven to work well in many other schools across the country. … All the students receive a workbook that goes along with the curriculum that talks about career goals and how interests and hobbies fit into certain careers. It also taught much needed skills such as budget making and being a frugal shopper.”

Additionally, traditional Junior Achievement lessons also cover topics such as insurance, the stock market, banking and which career fields are growing. Although learning about whether a Western New York house needs flood insurance might not sound entertaining, Moots said that the students take a general liking to Junior Achievement classes.

“The students are pretty enthusiastic,” said Moots. “What’s great about the program – kindergarten through senior year – the curriculum is relevant to the age group. It’s good for the teacher, too, because it’s someone else coming into the classroom that reinforces what the teachers are teaching their students. JA starts off in kindergarten and grows with the students as they climb grades. By the time the students are in seventh grade, they are learning about entrepreneurship. By the time the students are seniors, their entire economics class includes Junior Achievement.”

And while Junior Achievement is an international organization and has had a stronghold in Falconer for close to a decade, not many other schools are taking advantage of what Junior Achievement has to offer.

“Right now, in Chautauqua County, it’s Falconer, Jamestown, Brocton and Dunkirk who participate in Junior Achievement,” said Laurie Mahoney, Buffalo area Junior Achievement president. “We have many schools in Erie County which participate, but not so many in Chautauqua County. We’d really like to see more schools use Junior Achievement, but securing resources is always an issue.”

As a way to raise awareness about JA in Chautauqua County, the JA of Western New York recently announced the formation of the Junior Achievement of WNY Chautauqua County Advisory Committee.

Through a network of high profile business and community leaders, the JAWNY Chautauqua Advisory Committee will assist JAWNY staff to develop new partnerships, increase awareness of JA programs and grow revenue streams to ensure and enhance JA’s presence throughout Chautauqua County.

Members of the newly formed committee are: Mike Metzger, Jim Roach, Steve Penhollow, Jane Fosberg, Deke Kathman and Cathy Moots. Metzger and Roach will serve as president and vice-president, respectively.

As a fundraiser, JA will be hosting the Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon on April 20 at the Jamestown Bowling Company. There is a $5 lane fee per bowler, and every participant is asked to raise a minimum of $50. More information on the Bowl-A-Thon can be found at www.jawnybowlathon.org.

More general information about JA can be found at its website, www.jawny.org.