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April 12, 2005 > Junior Achievement meets junior achievers

Junior Achievement meets junior achievers

Warm Springs Elementary School was buzzing with youthful energy last week as 27 classrooms welcomed 35 volunteer instructors from PG&E. Some students remembered the Junior Achievement sponsored visit from last year since this is the third time PG&E employees have partnered with Junior Achievement at Warm Springs.

Junior Achievement (JA), founded in 1919, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure knowledge of the free enterprise system, economics and the world of work. The Bay Area chapter, established in 1950, supports educational facilities with an independent curriculum for students from Kindergarten through 12th grade in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo and Solano counties.

Trained volunteer role models from local businesses and organizations visit classrooms to help create links between academic subjects and the "world of work." Throughout all grade levels, the curriculum builds concepts and skills such as forming probing questions and finding creative answers that integrate with lessons taught in preceding years. Literacy, interpersonal, technical, analytical and financial management skills are essential for personal growth and stressed in the JA curriculum. A strong link between academics and the working world allows students to understand the value and need for academic preparation to achieve success in the workplace.

Classroom activities include group reading, writing exercises, presentations and hands-on activities. Each lesson includes a "take-home" component that allows families to share the information. The elementary school program begins with an examination of "Ourselves" in kindergarten and explores Our Families, Our Community, Our City, Our Region, Our Nation and Our World in following lessons through 6th grade.

Independent evaluation of the Junior Achievement curriculum has shown the strength of the program. Consistent high praise from teachers and a comprehensive evaluation by The Worldwide Institute for Research and Evaluation indicate that the impact of this program is both consistent and significant.

Jeff Butler, PG&E senior vice president of transmission and distribution and Warm Springs School Principal Robin Riley watched PG&E volunteers generate lively sessions with the students. He commented, "PG&E employees who live and work in the community are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to volunteer at a local school. About 30 PG&E employees volunteer each Junior Achievement day and most come back to volunteer again year after year."

Vice president of East Bay Operations, Linda McCracken, said that the program at Warm Springs School would be followed the next day by another at James Leitch Elementary School in Fremont with volunteers from EMC Corporation and commented that in March, parent volunteers participated in a JA Day at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

McCracken invited local businesses to get involved since Junior Achievement would like to expand into many more Tri-City schools and needs more volunteers. Sponsoring firms and organizations usually form "Whole School Partnerships" providing volunteers for the entire school creating a strong link between the company and a school.

For those interested in learning more about Junior Achievement and volunteer training, visit or call Linda McCracken (925) 648-8009.

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