I arrived for my volunteer check-in appointment at 8:30am Thursday morning. I walked into the Junior Achievement building located downtown on Muhammad Ali Blvd, not really knowing exactly what to expect but filled with anticipation for my day’s activities. Our school, Wheeler Elementary, had 95 students from the 5th Grade Academy on their way down 64 West to embark on a journey as a day-in-the-life of an employee in a city filled with businesses and jobs that had to be done.
As a parent volunteer, my job was to help the students to whom I was assigned, answer their questions, direct their day’s activities, and generally keep them on task. It was such a rewarding experience! Albeit, it was exhausting for me, I can only imagine how tired the students were when they piled back onto the school busses at 2:30pm. The students arrived at Biztown around 10am and walked into the simulation city awestruck and ready to “play.” I love seeing ten and eleven-year-olds giddy about something other than themselves, the stupid joke just told, or their handheld device and whatever is on the screen at the moment. There were all sorts of businesses, shops, and organizations that groups of students were running, with one student in the group assigned as the CEO and one student assigned as the CPA. There was everything from a restaurant, a supply center, a philanthropy center, a realty group, and college information desk, to a newspaper (where I was in charge and loved it!), a radio station, a new station, a city hall, a UPS store, a doctor’s office, and more.
During the simulated day, students had tasks and jobs they had to complete, they received two paychecks throughout the day, they learned how to deposit their paycheck, save some money in a savings account, balance their check register, purchase items with cash or debit card, and learn the values of earning money and staying within your means. They worked hard and cooperated together, even having elected a Mayor of Biztown at school in the weeks prior to coming to Biztown. Each student worked diligently and I was proud to be one of over 30 parent volunteers for our school. I was even prouder of the fact that the staff who works here told us that they typically get 16 parents, and our school doubled that amount!
It was a fabulous and fun day, and I learned a lot as well from the students as well as becoming informed about this great organization downtown that is working with and partnering with the community to bridge learning with our students and make it creatively powerful at the same time.
You can get involved as well; they take volunteer applications all year long and welcome your inquiries. For more information, visit www.jaky.org or call 502-569-9200. Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana is located at 1901 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Photos by Erin Nevitt