Author: Sarah Koci Scheilz
Published: Wednesday, 19 Jun 2019
When Myron King’s entire ad agency shut down for a day of global service, he seized the opportunity to partner with Junior Achievement and spend the day volunteering in a sixth grade Kansas City classroom. And the day was life-changing for Myron and all his colleagues at VMLY&R.
“When I received the packet of information we’d be sharing with the students, I was at first intimidated by the sheer density,” Myron remembers. “How will we be able to master the curriculum? But when we showed up at the school, it was such a warm experience. The JA staff welcomed us with open arms and lowered our anxiety level quite a bit about being in a classroom with kids. They told us to rely on what we know as successful professionals and as individuals with a unique story.” And it worked.
Myron’s mission for the day was to open up to the students and help them embrace the content. Using the tools and preparatory materials JA provided, and his own experience as a Managing Director at VMLY&R, Myron was able to facilitate an amazing learning experience.
Before he knew it, Myron was surrounded by kids engaging in mergers and acquisitions, watching as they embraced the subject matter wholeheartedly. “We were maybe there for seven hours, but it felt like three at best,” Myron says. “We were able to bring some of what we do in our digital profession into the classroom and had the students all build marketing plans for businesses they wanted to build.”
“All of us at VMLY&R left that day feeling like we had an impact,” Myron shares. “So of course, we decided that we wanted to stay involved with Junior Achievement.”
Every kid deserves someone in their corner. “Junior Achievement provides access to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a person like me,” Myron says. “Junior Achievement should be credited for creating this conduit between individuals that have accomplished and overcome and achieved certain things in their lives and the individuals who would be motivated by their lessons.”
As he got ready to volunteer in the classroom, Myron put himself back in his own sixth grade shoes. “Imagine what it would have meant for someone like you — your future self — to come back and tell you things that would help you later in life. It's literally the closest thing you'll get to a time machine,” Myron says. “That's one thing that makes Junior Achievement unique. You’re able to share your experiences and impart wisdom. The students may not remember your name, but they will remember what you said and how they felt when you said it.” Junior Achievement ignites a spark in young people.
Putting the JA business curriculum into play, Myron split the sixth-grade into groups as executive leadership teams of their own companies. And Myron’s fears that the sixth graders would be a tough crowd? He experienced the very opposite: sparks flew. “The whole classroom lit up at times,” Myron remembers. “It was an electrifying sort of experience. I kind of get chills just thinking about how that went.”
For the whole team at VMLY&R, giving back to JA means building their creative pipeline for the future. “I’d like to facilitate these kinds of opportunities so that we are both helping with the mission of Junior Achievement and also extending our recruitment of populations that are underrepresented,” Myron says. “Those voices and perspectives are going to help sustain our industry in the next 5, 10, 15 years.”
For professionals considering volunteering with Junior Achievement, Myron has some inspiration. “Don't underestimate the value of your experiences. Don't underestimate the impact just an hour of your time could have just in sharing your story or your time with the kids who wouldn't otherwise hear it.”
When you give back to Junior Achievement, it’s your chance to ‘travel back in time’ and empower the next generation to reach their full potential. Your advice and encouragement is priceless — because every child deserves to believe in themselves, and to have the tools to do it.