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District 518

Column: Junior Achievement a valued program

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WORTHINGTON -- Junior Achievement's mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. It is the largest organization dedicated to educating young people about business, economics, financial literacy and workforce readiness skills. These programs are taught by volunteers in classrooms throughout the United States and in nearly 100 countries. It has been proven to be an effective way to engage the business community in the classroom, and to help schools better understand their role in community economic development.

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In our community, Junior Achievement is a carefully organized partnership between the school, the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and community members. This partnership provides benefits to everyone involved. The students gain a greater understanding of how money flows through our community from people in the community who are a part of the economic system. The volunteers are allowed a firsthand glimpse at what is happening in the schools here in Worthington and an opportunity to interact with the students in a meaningful way. The classrooms are always alive with excitement on the days when the Junior Achievement volunteers come to present. Having a guest expert present the material offers validity to what is being taught and engages the students in a new way. There is "real-world" application to the materials being taught.

The teachers at Prairie Elementary are extremely grateful to the many volunteers from the community who are willing to come each year to present the Junior Achievement materials to our students. It really brings the world of economics to life for our students. This program allows us to meet our economics standards for the Department of Education. This year alone the materials were presented in about 40 classrooms to more than 800 students at Prairie Elementary in kindergarten through third grade. Our program is run by a committee of other community members including Chamber of Commerce members, school personnel and the community. Our funding comes from a variety of sources. We have been partially supported through the generous work of the United Way of Nobles County. We have also received generous donations from the Prairie Elementary Parent Group, WalMart and Nobles-Murray Rural Electric Trust. The entirety of our expenses goes toward the materials used to teach the children. All of the work is done by volunteers.

The volunteers who teach our Junior Achievement classes come from a variety of businesses. Without their willingness to make a difference in the lives of the children in our school, this program would not be a success. To all of our volunteers, we say thank you for your donation of time and talent. You are appreciated.

We are currently working to fundraise and find volunteers for our 2012-2013 school year. We will need at least 40 volunteers for the upcoming school year. Volunteers teach five 45-minute classes from a carefully laid out curriculum. The teachers gladly work with our volunteers to find a time that works in their schedule to make this extraordinary program happen.

If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of Junior Achievement or to get more information, please contact the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919 or wcofc@frontiernet.net.

Kris Doeden teaches second grade at Prairie Elementary.

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