“Sometimes the smallest choices can make the biggest impact."

 

Sometimes one experience ignites a long-lasting relationship that ripples across a community. Junior Achievement seeks to be a catalyst for experiences which change the trajectory of kids’ futures. But we have found the impact isn’t limited to students. Surprisingly often, the JA volunteer leaves just as changed as the students they inspired. Such is the case for Dr. Hilary Logan.

Hilary was exposed to Junior Achievement as an undergrad student in the School of Education at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. She remembered, “I took a social studies course and got to be a JA volunteer in the classroom with a partner school.” Hilary recounted how being a JA volunteer was an invaluable experience as a future teacher saying, “It was a rich experience for me. I was able to practice teaching a full classroom of students with a scripted curriculum. That’s something teachers must become familiar with.”

Her JA experience made learning to lead a classroom more approachable. She told us, “I loved the little packets we got with all the materials. As an undergraduate student it was an exciting opportunity.” Equipped with newfound confidence in her calling after her time leading JA programs, Hilary went on to graduate with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Baker. She continued her educational journey with a M.S.E and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, both from the University of Kansas.

These days, Hilary works with future educators as an Associate Professor at Rockhurst University and conducts research in the areas of elementary social studies methods, children’s literature, and language arts. In her first year as a professor she realized existing curriculum did not provide pre-service teachers an opportunity for hands on practice. “The way field experience was organized was they went into a classroom and observed lessons. I did a study in our department and found post-secondary students weren’t getting to practice whole class instruction. They only had small groups and individual one-on-one types of tutoring situations.” Hilary explained why that was problematic saying, “You don’t get to build relationships and feel what it’s really like before student teaching.” Hilary decided to give her students the benefit of learning by doing, just like she had with JA in her own undergraduate program.

With her study findings in hand, Hilary applied and was accepted to the to the McMeel Scholars Program at Rockhurst University. The program helps professors develop service-learning and community-based teaching opportunities for their students. “I realized how important service is, not only for the university, but for its teachers.” The organizers of the McMeel Scholars Program offered to help connect Hilary with resources, but she already had her heart set on working with Junior Achievement. “They parade around partners for you, but I had a goal. I knew who I wanted to partner with. So, I reached out to a Junior Achievement coordinator.” Her concept was enthusiastically embraced by JAKC.

That Spring the first group of Rockhurst students entered Frank Rushton elementary in Kansas City, Kansas to deliver JA programs. Hilary reflected on that first group, commenting, “They had a wonderful experience. I was able to go into their lessons, observe them, and give lots of feedback.” Hilary appreciated that her students were able to touch the lives of kids who had fewer resources. “One of the things I love about Junior Achievement is that they partner with Title 1 schools. Schools that NEED this type of leadership.” She continued, “Another fantastic thing about our partnership is that JA provides the kits and materials we need. Any extra resources we leave with the teacher.” Since that first class, the program has steadily gained popularity. “Last year we sent out twenty students into the field. That is a really big impact.” Hilary notes.

Over the many years of connecting her university students to elementary students through JA, Hilary has maintained her passion for the mission. “Junior Achievement incorporates real-world sills into the classroom, specifically economics.” She explains that the topic is often intimidating to the students she works with, “For pre-service teachers, especially at the elementary level, economics is a scary word. It’s not something they feel confident teaching.” Through JA programs, her students have gained tools to lead those discussions with their future students. “Junior Achievement gives us the opportunity to practice skills to teach economics and other social studies content.”

Hilary knows how important these skills are, “They are learning how to convey small details that affect your life in the long run.” This is something Hilary wants both her students and JA kids to understand, “Sometimes the smallest choices can make the biggest impact. Be mindful of the choices you make, whether its on social media or the ways you choose to save or spend money. Think about how it might impact yourself and others.” Hilary’s choice to become a JA Champion many years ago definitely has had a big impact on the futures of her students, JA kids, and Kansas City as a whole.

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