Author: Julia Wade
Published: Monday, 23 Aug 2021
Introduce yourself! Why are you passionate about your work?
I am beginning my 19th year in education. I began my journey as a high school math teacher for 10 years, then transitioned into administration overseeing high school curriculum. I am now the Director of Curriculum, K-12. I have always been passionate about ensuring that every student has access to quality learning opportunities, both in and out of the classroom. Exposure is key, and when kids see what is possible and can experience it firsthand, it becomes more attainable for them.
Can you tell us about Gahanna Schools and JA's relationship?
Over the years, a few of our elementary schools participated in JA BizTown with our 5th graders. But Gahanna Schools began working more closely with Junior Achievement and Mike Fulwider, roughly 7 years ago through the Apprenticeship program for high school students. Mike connected us with Larry Grishow at Abercrombie & Fitch and we were able to place two students in a supply chain apprenticeship. It was an awesome experience for the students who, prior to that, had never considered supply chain management as a viable career. Mike Fulwider also helped establish the job shadowing program with Microsoft and we have been able to send groups of students to that experience. Our partnership over the years continues to grow as Junior Achievement helps us connect with local businesses and industries to provide more exploratory experiences for our students in Gahanna, expanding into elementary and middle school. Lastly, we established a Workforce Development Advisory Council in our district and Mike Fulwider is a co-chair because he and Junior Achievement are instrumental in our plans to educate and increase opportunities for our students and community.
Why do you continue to partner with Junior Achievement?
Junior Achievement is an established organization that is dedicated to career exploration and experiential learning for students K-12. JA is uniquely positioned between schools and industry and does a fantastic job bringing the parties together with a common goal for kids. JA provides quality programming that is engaging for students, and really helps students see the possibilities available to them. The task of providing work-based and exploratory learning opportunities for students would be much more challenging without our partnership with Junior Achievement.
What do you think is most important for students that a school can provide?
I think one of the most important things schools can provide students is choice and opportunity to explore interests and passions in a low stakes environment. The more chances students get to hone in on their interests and passions, the more engaged they are and open to learn.
What obstacles do you see young people facing today? Do you think JA is helping students overcome these obstacles?
I think the rapidly changing work industry is an obstacle but I think that is more of an obstacle for adults which indirectly impacts young people. Kids are growing up through these changes so it is all they know, but it can be unsettling for adults because we don't really know how to prepare kids for what doesn't exist at the moment. This is definitely where Junior Achievement is beneficial because the organization studies the changes, maintains connections with industry and develops opportunities for students that are flexible, creative, and fun. The experiences created by JA allow students to hone skills like problem-solving, collaboration, and communication in more authentic situations, skills that transcend a particular job and/or industry.