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Junior Achievement in our school

Joel Flaten taught the Junior Achievement program to kindergarten students at Hancock elementary.1 / 3
Pastor Julius Miller talks to the sixth grade class.2 / 3
Tim Schaefer met with Hancock juniors and discussed personal financial decisions.3 / 3

For the last two years something exciting has been taking place at the Hancock School. Students are being inspired to dream big and reach their potential through a program called Junior Achievement.

The Junior Achievement program initiated at the school in 2009. It is funded through the Hancock School Foundation which also serves as the sponsoring entity. This was the second year that volunteers from the business community and other educators spent time each week in classrooms through the program. These volunteers gave hands-on activities that helped teach students the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

The education began at the youngest level, in kindergarten. The elementary school program includes six themes for kindergarten through fifth grade. These themes are 'Our selves', 'Our families', 'Our Community', 'Our City', 'Our Region' and 'Our Nation'. The junior achievement program was also taught in 6th grade, 9th grade and 11th grade.

Joel Flaten taught the kindergarten children about 'Ourselves'. Teacher Ashley Christianson stated that Joel talked to the students about saving money, what a volunteer is and coin value.

In first grade Adam Wink came in to talk about 'Our Families'. This theme emphasized the roles people and families play in the local economy and engages students with activities about needs, wants, jobs, tools and skills.

Sarah Crowell talked to the second grade class about 'Our Community'. The students explored the roles of workers in a community, the work they perform and how a community works.

In third grade Jeff Steiner talked about careers, skills needed in the work force and how business contributes to the city in 'Our City'.

Jim Nelson visited the fourth grade classroom to talk about 'Our Region'. This subject highlighted the natural, human and capital resources found in our region and how businesses use these resources.

At the fifth grade level the study expands to 'Our Nation'. In this area Bridget Joos provided information about the job market including high-demand jobs. It also introduces the need for students to be entrepreneurial in their thinking in order to meet the needs of high-demand careers worldwide.

These concepts are taken a step further with Julius Miller in the sixth grade classroom. He expanded on the previous themes with classroom sessions about business and jobs with emphasis on social studies, reading and writing skills. Students are encouraged to use critical thinking to learn entrepreneurial skills that support positive attitudes as they explore and enhance their career aspirations.

The ninth grade class participated in Junior Achievement with Leah Nelson visiting their classroom and talking about career options based on skills, interests and values. This portion of the program demonstrates the economic benefits of staying in school.

The final Junior Achievement course was given to juniors with Tim Schaefer talking to them about personal finance. This course helped students build a foundation for making intelligent, lifelong, personal financial decisions through hands-on, realistic site-based experiences. The concepts included banking, budgets, buying, credit, debt, exchange, saving, social security and taxes along with other areas of finance.

According to Joel Flaten of the Hancock School Foundation, the great thing about Junior Achievement is that it incorporates so many areas of the school's Strategic Plan. It teaches some of the skills and knowledge that children need to function in a 21st Century economy. It also engages the community in the teaching process plus the bonus is that the community volunteers get to meet the great teachers and students at Hancock School.

Junior Achievement promotes a lot of great values like hard work, teamwork, savings, and more. Survey results have proven that Junior Achievement, at all levels, is preparing students to develop successful financial management habits, empowering them to explore the potential of becoming an entrepreneur, and providing them the skills necessary to succeed in a global economy.