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TIM HART AND THE 5TH GRADERS Teaching 5th-Graders About Business for ‘Junior Achievement’
Last month, I wrapped up my role as the Junior Achievement volunteer for my son’s — and the awesome Mr. Schwann’s — fifth-grade class at Saint Michael Lutheran School (SMLS). It was a pretty incredible experience teaching this group of kids all about business, career building, innovation, and how people carve out a living in the midst of this crazy world. Across five classroom sessions in the mornings over five weeks, I had the opportunity to engage in dozens of fascinating conversations and activities with these sharp kids. I probably learned as much from them as they did from me. If you haven’t heard of it before, Junior Achievement is a national program dedicated to equipping K–12 kids with the tools they’ll need to survive in the contemporary business climate. A few months ago, I saw the email go out asking for volunteers to teach the Junior Achievement curriculum to kids at SMLS. Since I knew a lot of the kids in his class, I thought it would be a valuable experience for all of us. This particular program was split into five different main topics: “Free to Choose Your Work or Business,” “Innovation Nation,” “Career Quest,” “Get and Keep the Job,” and “Global Connections.” I have got say that I was a little nervous going in there the first morning. I’ve seen what kids can do to a substitute teacher. Luckily, my years of coaching kids held fast, and I really felt like we had some fantastic conversations. As a father of three, I already know that kids are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for, but it was still cool to see their minds working during these lessons. I did my best to convey the huge range of options they have for their future careers and the millions of different ways they can find fulfilling work. I think my experience and college-free background were kind of a wake-up call for a few of them. Hopefully they realized that, while college can be great for certain kinds of people, it’s not an absolute necessity for everyone — not that they’ll be making that decision anytime soon. Throughout the lessons, I tried to stress that, above
all else, hard work, a positive attitude, and a good moral compass will get you furthest in life.
As I said, it was an awesome experience full of laughs and surprising insights. It was especially interesting to see my son Mason in his natural element, interacting with his peers. It’s always heartening to discover firsthand that your kid gets along with everyone else — even when he tries to be captain comedian in the middle of the lesson you’ve so carefully prepared. When we were handing out the Junior Achievement certificates at the end of the last session, he faked like he was crying while accepting the award, gave me a big hug, and said, “I love you, Daddy!” Anything for a laugh with this one — I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I would do the whole thing again in a heartbeat. And hey, maybe I’ll have the chance with one of my two younger kids’ classes down the road. Either way, I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to coach these kids on the intricacies of business and encourage them that, no matter what they choose to do, they can achieve their goals with some serious hustle and dedication.
VanDyk Mortgage | www.TimHartJr.com | 239-437-4278
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