Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, made up of people like Combs, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness. The goal is to teach concepts through experiential learning, allowing young people to put their knowledge and skills into practice.
Combs began volunteering with Junior Achievement in the Beloit School District in 2015. During that school year, he worked with a fourth-grade class. In both 2016 and 2017, he has worked in a third-grade class.
“I love coaching, so it’s similar to coaching just in the classroom,” Combs said.
Combs visits the classroom once each week for five weeks, with each visit lasting about an hour. The classrooms he has volunteered in range from 25-30 kids.
Junior Achievement provides all volunteers with lesson plans and outlines for each session and volunteers can tailor it as they get to know their classroom. Combs likes to get the kids up and moving, for example.
During a recent lesson, Combs had the class lay out a city based on zoning districts: business, industrial, multi-purpose, agricultural and residential. Lessons also include discussions and activities surrounding credit cards, savings accounts, debit cards and paying bills. Kids even learn how to write out a check.
“A credit card doesn’t mean you can get whatever you want,” Combs offered as an example of things he teaches.
His goal is that the kids have a better understanding of what’s to come. He tries to instill the importance of a good work ethic and that things in life are earned, not just given. Plenty of the kids have shoveled a driveway, had a lemonade stand, mowed a lawn or gone to a garage sale, so they have at least some understanding of how to earn money.
“I love watching kids grow and learn,” Combs said.
Last school year, Combs even got to teach Junior Achievement to the son of one of our quality control teammates. Mid-States own Ryan Bach’s son was in Combs’ class.
Because the program also focuses on job readiness, Combs also talks with the kids about what kind of job they might want to have, and what it takes to get there, like schooling and training.
He also likes to share about his job here at Mid-States Concrete, and if he is working in a school that has Mid-States materials in it, he shows them. In his first year, he was at Cunningham School which features hollowcore, wall panels and stair and landing pieces from Mid-States. This year and last, Combs has been at Converse School, which has hollowcore and wall panels from Mid-States.
Junior Achievement is always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, learn more here.