Junior Achievement Program Expands to Pioneer

As winter gave way to spring, Junior Achievement (JA) branched out into new territory – the Pioneer Center. The JA provided materials for a 5 week course, which was led by Pioneer staff members John Hock, Director of Adult Services, and Art Nichols, Vocational Specialist. Kathy Ray, JA Liaison, played a crucial role in bringing the program to Pioneer. Kathy, who works with 10 school districts in Ross and Jackson County, helped get the project funded through the JA Board, headed by President William Beatty.

JA teaches young people about free enterprise, money management, and how business works so that they can successfully manage their finances once they become adults. At Pioneer, the program also serves to normalize the idea of working toward competitive employment just like every other high school student.

Pioneer student learned about topics ranging from the economy to credit scores through a variety of games and activities during the lessons. The topic for week one was “Getting to Know Yourself.” John Hocker started the session with a frame held tightly against his chest; “We’ve all heard, when it comes to getting a job, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ right?” Mr. Hocker told the kids that the most important person for them to know was the person on the other side of the frame he held. One by one the kids guessed at the image that would appear when the frame was flipped. Guesses included the President Obama, Governor Kasich, Pioneer’s superintendent Rick Marriott, and so on.  Smiles stretched across the students’ face as Mr. Hocker revealed the mirror that was on the other side of the frame.

The Junior Achievement course is just one way Pioneer is implementing the Employment First Initiative, a program being heavily supported by Governor Kasich. The program emphasizes the importance of employment and people with developmental disabilities, with the goal of full integration into their communities.

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