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From Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee:

Oliver Middle School students spent all day Monday learning about capital resources, imports and exports, the importance of budgeting, and the characteristics of entrepreneurs. They studied foreign currency, created business plans, set personal budgets and crafted résumés. Students learned all of this not from their teachers, but from businesspeople.

More than 60 employees from 23 area companies took over the school on December 17th, leading interactive programming on financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship through a JA in a Day event hosted by Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee.

“JA in a day at Oliver Middle School is a wonderful day for our students. Students get to play math games and make advertisements for products, which helps develop critical thinking skills and stimulates their creativity. Students also get to know a variety of community professionals who are interested in furthering students’ educations in unique and thoughtful ways. Thank you, Junior Achievement,” said Linda Latter, Counselor at Oliver Middle.

Sue Kessler teachers students for JA in a Day

Dr. Susan Kessler (center), JA Associate Board Member and Executive Principal at Hunter’s Lane High School, and Andrew Davis (right), Assistant Principal at Hunter’s Lane High School, volunteer at Oliver Middle School.

Junior Achievement provides hands-on programming that connects what students are learning in the classroom to the real-world. Offered to students in Kindergarten through high school, JA programs combine discussions and group activities into lessons that help students understand the important role education plays in a successful future.

JA in a Day combines all six lessons of JA’s middle school programming into one day, instead of spreading the lessons out over several weeks. Having dedicated volunteers take over the entire school ensured all 860 students in the Metro Nashville school received the lessons at the same time on the same day.

JA of Middle Tennessee President Trent Klingensmith said, “Being able to reach every student in four grades with JA’s message of financial responsibility and workplace skills is incredible. As an organization, Junior Achievement is grateful to the volunteers who helped inspire hundreds of students at Oliver Middle to take the steps today that will lead to success in life and the workplace down the road.”

Several volunteers participating in Oliver’s JA in a Day were JA Board Members. Associate Board Member Jaclyn Carney of Radsource had a great experience. She said, “my teaching partner and I spent the day with a great group of 23 eighth graders...this day was so rewarding as it allowed me the opportunity to engage with the next generation and challenge them to start thinking about what it means to own their own economic success. The lessons and activities provided to us by JA were visibly impactful as they empowered these students to open their minds, think about their future, and begin the important journey of self-discovery. From evaluating their own skills, values, and interests in thinking about future career options, to balancing a budget, to understanding the difference between credit and cash, the value of education, and many things in between, I feel as though each student walked away from this JA in a Day experience with an increased level of self knowledge and the important foundation from which to build upon their own economic success. I am confident that because of JA in a Day, each of these 23 students were exposed to priceless lessons that challenged them to think outside the walls of their eighth grade classroom and dream big!”

The teachers and students at Oliver Middle School are no strangers to JA volunteer experiences. This marked the fourth year in a row the school has opened its doors to host a whole-school JA in a Day event for its middle schoolers.

Junior Achievement hosts other JA in a Day programs throughout Middle Tennessee. Companies and schools interested in participating should contact JA Director of Programs Andy Schenck at 615.627.1186 or andys@janash.com.


High school students got a crash course in running a business from Junior Achievement and a team of business professionals acting as mentors.

Teams from Antioch, Cane Ridge, Glencliff, Hillwood, McGavock, and Maplewood took part in the JA Titan Business Challenge presented by Catepillar Financial. The team from Cane Ridge came out on top, besting teams from Metro schools and some from out of county. McGavock was close behind in second.

Congratulations to all who took part!

JA Titan Business Challenge

From a full Junior Achievement press release:

Nashville—On a typical business day in April, 20 companies sold products, developed product innovations, analyzed financial reports, implemented marketing plans and donated to charity. However, these companies were anything but typical—they were run by high school students and all business was performed virtually.

On April 24th, 60 students from eight different high schools in three Middle Tennessee counties competed in the JA Titan Business Challenge presented by Caterpillar Financial and hosted by Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee (JA). In teams of 3, 20 student-led companies vied to become the most successful company.

Student participants hailed from Antioch High School, Cane Ridge High School, Glencliff High School, Hillwood High School, McGavock High School, and Maplewood High School in Davidson County; Pope John Paul II High School in Sumner County; and Mt. Juliet High School in Wilson County.

Cane Ridge High School took first place in the JA Titan Business Challenge. McGavock High School placed second and Pope John Paul II High School finished third. Teams scored points based on business strategy and overall company performance.

Prior to the event, students received the 7-session, JA Titan classroom-based program which introduces critical economics and management decisions through an interactive computer simulation and was taught by volunteers from Caterpillar Financial and FirstBank. Only the top team from each classroom was invited to compete in the JA Titan Business Challenge.

The winning team from Cane Ridge was mentored by Ritzon Fernandez of Caterpillar Financial Services, who taught the program in the classroom and then coached the students through their decision-making during the competition. He explained, “The JA Titan game is extremely intricate, from basics such as setting price, to deciding on capital expenditures, to monitoring the cost of holding inventory. You don’t realize how much the students have learned in such a short time until you watch them go in with a business strategy, make these complex decisions, and then continuously adjust their strategy according to their competition.”

Most of the students received the program through a business management or marketing class at school. Teacher Amanda Davoli of Antioch High School said she provides the JA Titan program to her students because “it is a natural fit with the business principles students are already learning” in her classroom.

“The JA Titan Business Challenge allows students to put together all the components of running a business and helps them understand how all these aspects combine to make a business successful,” said Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee President Trent Klingensmith. “Not only does the JA Titan Business Challenge give students a chance to learn and interact with each other in a fun environment, it also gives a competitive advantage because they have a better understanding of how a business operates before they enter the workforce.”

Students agreed that the JA Titan experience will be helpful to them in the future. Kelsea Sullivan, a student at Cane Ridge High School, wants to major in business in college. She said, “The lessons I learned in class through JA Titan were applied in a business setting in the competition. I was really applying my learning.”

Rina Dervishi, also a student at Cane Ridge, said the competition “gave me an idea of how the real world will be and what will be important.”

JA Titan is just one of the classroom-based programs Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee provides to students in Kindergarten through high school. These programs promote financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship through interactive, volunteer-led curriculum. More than 30,000 students will receive JA programs in their classrooms during the 2011-2012 school year.

About Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee: Locally, Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, a franchise of Junior Achievement USA® (JA), provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement offers classroom-based programs, JA BizTown, JA Job Shadow, and the JA Company Program to students in Kindergarten through high school. Founded in Middle Tennessee in 1957, Junior Achievement now operates in 18 counties in the region, reaching over 30,000 students annually in over 2,000 classrooms throughout Middle Tennessee. For more information, visit www.janash.com.

About Junior Achievement USA® (JA) Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches four million students per year in more than 120 markets across the United States, with an additional 6.5 million students served by operations in 117 other countries worldwide. Visit www.ja.org for more information.


More than three dozen volunteers will head to Dan Mills Elementary this afternoon to teach the students about businesses, jobs, paychecks, taxes, and resources that contribute to the local economy. Through JA in a Day, the team of 41 adult volunteers who represent 16 different companies and organizations in Middle Tennessee will be in front of the classroom leading discussions and activities on these topics.

The JA in a Day program is operated by Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee with lessons taught by volunteers, JA board members, and future educators. Every Dan Mills classroom will receive a JA program that will focus on five lessons that teach students the basic concepts of business and economics and how education is relevant to the workplace.

Organizations represented include: Allstate, Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Bridgestone Americas, Caterpillar Financial Services, Dan Mills Elementary School PTO, Deloitte, First Tennessee Bank, Ford Motor Credit, HCA, Ingram Industries, Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Trevecca Nazarene University, TVA, and US Bank. 

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