Throughout the Junior Achievement community, many dedicated people play an important part in ensuring that today’s children become the well-educated, financially responsible adults of tomorrow.
Amy Speck is a parent volunteer who makes it possible for local students to experience JA. Part of what makes Amy’s role so unique is that she not only volunteers to teach JA programs at Lake Harriet Community School, a K-8 school in Minneapolis where her three children attend, but also serves as a JA parent volunteer coordinator.
“A friend of mine called me one day and said, ‘I think I want to teach a JA class but I don’t want to do it by myself. Will you do it with me?’” Amy says of her introduction to the program. “I knew a little bit about JA because my kids had it in their classrooms, and it seemed interesting. I thought, ‘Well, I’ve been a self-employed hairstylist for 20 years and my husband runs his own business. Plus, I really like being in a classroom.”
Amy has found joy in guiding students toward a deeper understanding of the role business plays in our economy. She says the program materials and training that JA supplies helped her make the leap to JA volunteer.
“JA makes it so easy to teach the class,” she says, smiling, “but they also make it really easy to put your own twist on it. For instance, the other day I was teaching a fourth-grade class and the kids weren’t settling down to work as a team. I decided to change things up a bit. You can adjust the lessons to match the moment so that the kids still get the information they need to learn.”
Amy quickly decided just dipping a toe into the water as a volunteer wasn’t enough. Instead, she plunged in headfirst. This year alone, she has taught four kindergarten classes, a second-grade class, a third-grade class and three fourth-grade classes.
Amy has come to truly value what JA brings to the classroom, and she’s working hard to build an even stronger relationship between JA and the school.
“I’ve gotten more involved as a link between JA and the school as a whole, not just as a classroom volunteer. I’ve helped recruit other parent volunteers too,” she explains. Amy coordinates with teachers to get them signed up in the fall, and provides support to teachers and JA volunteers. She also shares her volunteer experience with other parents with the hopes of recruiting them to volunteer in their child’s classroom. Her insight, advice and support of other parent volunteers is a key reason that students at Lake Harriet School experience JA.
“I really love JA and I think it’s so important,” she says. “I wish, growing up, that I’d had something like this.”