The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2019

Students learn about business through JA

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

With school back in session, it’s nearly time for Junior Achievement’s suite of economic programs to also begin in Van Wert County schools.

Junior Achievement volunteer Kyle Holliday teaches a class to elementary students. photo provided

JA offers programs to students in elementary and middle school in all Van Wert County schools, including St. Mary’s School, while Van Wert High School also offers a JA-sponsored economics class.

The programs begin in second grade with JA’s Our Community program, which JA coordinator Mark Verville said introduces students to what makes a community work.
“You learn a little bit about the community you live in,” he said, noting that students are able to put faces with local businesses, while learning about how businesses and government operate.

That program is followed by JA’s Our Region program in fourth grade, said JA Van Wert County Board President Scott Mull, who explained the program.

“It looks at the global economy and entrepreneurship, and what goes into a global economy,” Mull noted. “What goes into a business owner making a product and selling it.”

In fifth grade, students learn about what a variety of businesses do in the Biztown program and then get to participate in a simulated town for a day, where they work at a job, get paid, and then decide what to spend their money on.

“I think the financial education piece for the fifth grade, learning how to balance a checkbook, how to write a check, how to budget money when you get paid, is very important,” Mull said.

Sixth-graders learn about the Global Marketplace, which is even more specific to the global economy than the Our Region classes, noting how business works in a number of countries, as well as what can affect a company’s marketing products internationally, including currency exchange.

In eighth grade, students have the Finance Park program, which provides a more comprehensive Biztown-like experience, where students not only have a job to work at, but also learn about insurance, mortgages, and other consumer experiences.

What drives the local JA program are the volunteers, with Verville noting that approximately 60 volunteers are needed annually to teach the classes. It also means that the program is 

“Without the volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to be in all the classrooms we are,” Mull said. “We’re always looking for new volunteers.”

“It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done,” Mull said, noting that JA makes it easy by providing all the classroom materials, as well as how to present them. “It’s fulfilling a need, not only in Van Wert County, but beyond. Entrepreneurs are needed everywhere.”

“I think JA plays a part in developing that entrepreneurial spirit,” he added, while also noting that his favorite part of the program is being in the classroom with the kids. 

Verville said that anyone interested in volunteering can call him at the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce office at 419.238.4390.

Also important to the program are donations from local individuals, businesses, and organizations that provide the classroom materials and other items needed to maintain the JA program. Those wanting to make a donation can also contact Verville or one of the local JA board members.

Board members include Mull, Carly Smith (vice president), Thaison Leaser (treasurer), Kerry Koontz from Van Wert City Schools, Dan Swick from Lincolnview Local Schools, Lindsay Breese from Crestview Local Schools, Shawn Wrathell from Eaton Corporation, Pat Jackson from Central Insurance, Krisa Somerton from the Van Wert County Economic Development Office, Cory Michaud from National Door & Trim, Karen Shadowens from Van Wert Health, Kyle Holliday from Vancrest Health Care, and Whitney Sealscott from Sealscott CPA Inc.

POSTED: 09/09/19 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News