This Service Leader Spotlight features Kim Busch's reflection on teaching business to a Cole Elementary class through Junior Achievement in a Day.
In January, a group of service leaders and others in the Chaifetz School of Business community went to Pamoja Preparatory at Cole Elementary School. We went to volunteer with Junior Achievement as a part of their JA in a Day program. The experience allowed us to meet more members in the program and others in our SLU community, learn more about the Junior Achievement organization and discover the unique learning opportunities that the children experience at Pamoja Preparatory.
At Pamoja Preparatory, students are taught with an African-centered education. This is evident right away as you walk into the school when you are greeted with flags and art pieces representing African cultures. Students and staff of the school also use words and phrases from different African languages throughout their days. Before entering a new room, everyone says, "hodi hodi," a Swahili phrase that helps to announce ones' presence, ask permission to enter and serve as a greeting. The students and staff were also incredibly open to sharing the culture with us. Many students in the second-grade class that I taught helped teach me new words and explain the meaning and when to use them. The goal of the school is to "… produce citizens who have the desire, ability and work ethic to work in unity to take on the challenges and solve the problems of the Black community and larger society." Based on my interaction with the students of the school, they are doing an excellent job in making that goal a reality.
The JA in a Day program provided a business focused lesson plan that was customized for the grade levels we were teaching. It offered an opportunity for the students to learn information applicable to real life in an interactive way. The students were so excited to make connections with the concepts that they were learning and to their lives outside of school. Our lessons focused mainly on the different aspects of a community. When we brought up businesses in a community, almost all of the hands in the room shot up to share the different grocery stores and restaurants that they could recognize as a part of their community. One activity that the students completed was creating their own donut shops where they cut out and decorate the paper donuts. This helped us explain concepts such as goods and services to the kids. The next activity included us paying them for their work if they were collecting taxes or paying the public employees such as a police officer and firefighter. Having a program like this in St. Louis is so important in order to develop the youth in the community, especially in areas that are under-served.