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Junior Achievement Announced 2020 Educator and Volunteer of the Year Awards


Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) today announced its annual Educator and Volunteer of the Year awards in recognition for outstanding commitment to the central Ohio community and impact on the region’s K-12 student population. This year, JA will honor Taraja Shephard Allen, School Counselor, Columbus City Schools, as the 2020 Educator of the Year and JPMorgan Chase as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. The organization will celebrate both honorees as part of the annual Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame event virtually on November 18.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, JA has pivoted to virtual offerings to continue their work of empowering students to own their future through their work-readiness, financial literacy, and career-preparation K-12 programs. JA began piloting virtual programs with local educational partners, including Gahanna Lincoln High School, this spring and has now worked to expand and enhance offerings to include interactive, educational virtual experiences for all students throughout its central Ohio network.

“JA is excited to re-engage students and volunteers in the classroom when it’s safe, but we also love that we are no longer constrained by space and distance,” said Mike Davis, President, JA of Central Ohio. “We are poised to continue meeting students’ needs whether in school or out of the classroom.”

Educators and volunteers are pivotal to the work of Junior Achievement who proudly partners with local employers and school districts to empower and inspire the next generation of leaders to own their future success.

JA will continue offering virtual programming for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, however, volunteer and education partners are still crucial to the student experience. Employee volunteers at organizations like JPMorgan Chase, stand ready to provide guidance and share personal, real-life lessons with students through JA’s distance learning programs. Last school year alone, 173 JPMorgan Chase volunteers served 2,255 students through JA’s programs.

“As one of the largest employers in central Ohio, we recognize our role in supporting workforce programs and solutions that keep our region growing and thriving for everyone,” said Cathy Norton, Managing Director and Volunteer Leadership Group Leader for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re thrilled to support partners like Junior Achievement of Central Ohio to ensure students have the critical resources and tools they need to succeed. JPMorgan Chase volunteers leverage their expertise and passion to help make an impact on our next generation.”

With community partners like JPMorgan Chase, JA is preparing the region’s students to achieve more in their careers and in life.

“As a school counselor, I’m always looking for ways to help my students explore various career pathways. Junior Achievement brings the business community to our classrooms,” said Taraja Shephard Allen, a school counselor in Columbus City Schools and JA’s 2020 Educator of the Year. “We introduce them to growing careers by letting them meet people in the field, sharing their experiences and giving their perspective and real life tips on what they can do now to prepare for the future.”

Even in the most challenging of times, central Ohio does not just survive - it thrives, serving the community and cultivating resilient future generations.

About Junior Achievement of Central Ohio

Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA) prepares central Ohio K-12 students for the business of life after graduation by convening and aligning government entities, for-profit partners, and educational systems to integrate and implement JA's proven, groundbreaking career-preparation, financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs. In the 2018/2019 school year, 3,900 community volunteers helped deliver JA programs to 30,865 K-12 students. In the 2019/2020 school year, JA facilitated 26,093 student interactions.

About the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame

For thirty-three years, JA has honored local business and community leaders by inducting them into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. The 2020 Laureates are Sandy Doyle-Ahern, President, EMH&T and Dr. David T. Harrison, President, Columbus State Community College. A Volunteer of the Year, and Educator of the Year are also recognized. This year’s honorees are JPMorgan Chase, and Taraja Shephard Allen respectively. The 2020 Junior Achievement Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame presented by American Electric Power will be celebrated virtually on November 18.

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