Sayra Loftus teaches math at High School for the Recording Arts (HSRA) in St. Paul. HSRA is a public charter school that provides at-risk students with an opportunity to realize their full potential by encouraging students who may have dropped out or been expelled from traditional schools to complete their diplomas through a love of music and the music business.
In addition to teaching students the math skills they need to succeed in testing and post-graduation, Sayra also coordinates Junior Achievement programs at HSRA. She implements the JA Finance Park curriculum and coordinates JA Job Shadow activities, but her favorite role is mentoring students in the JA Company Program.
Students enrolled in the JA Company Program create, market and operate their own company and run it from start to finish within the school year. Students also compete against other high school companies to produce the best business model. In their first three years participating in the program, HSRA students created a radio advertising company, a record label and a fashion agency.
“Our first year trying out the JA Company Program revealed that the students wanted to capitalize on resources and talents they already had,” Sayra explains. “They started a radio advertising company called LYME (Leave Your Mark Everywhere). This group was already well versed in the studio and some of them were already part of our student-run radio show. State Farm sponsors this program at HSRA and with that, they send volunteers to help the students master some core entrepreneurial skills (marketing, business plans, liquidation, etc.). This team transformed kids who were consumed by the social-emotional issues of their age into young, confident, and focused business men and women. In 2011, they competed in Washington D.C. against 15 youth companies from across the U.S. and Canada. They took first place at the North American JA Company of the Year competition.”
Sayra has been honored for her commitment to her students. In 2011, she was awarded High School Teacher of the Year by Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. She was also recognized for implementing three JA programs at HSRA in the school’s first year with the program.
She’s looking forward to future success with the JA Company Program. “We have a stellar JA Company Program team, and I hope we can show that our students really have the most innovative entrepreneurial skills in our region, and perhaps, the entire nation!”