Eastern Shore, MD -- This year, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore (JAES) has given 10,000 students on the Eastern Shore real-world, relevant education. JAES delivers volunteer-led programs to students, K-12, in six counties on the Eastern Shore. These programs connect students to real-world experiences like budgeting, banking, career exploration, and exploring the world of business.
Earlier this year, in February, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore (JAES) hosted their 2nd annual JA Inspire career exploration event at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.
"JA Inspire is not a career fair," said JAES Development Manager, Lisa Thornton. "It's a career exploration experience where kids can truly see hands-on, experiential displays from local businesses. The goal is for students to see what it's really like to go into all these different careers. For example, what does a plumber really do, what does a nurse really do, what does that job look like day in and day out? Because, how can you truly choose a career, if you don't know what the job looks like?"
JA Inspire had a phenomenal impact on students here on the shore:
At the conclusion of JA Inspire, students are excited about their future. They have a better understanding of the courses they need to take in high school, a plan for post-secondary education, and a clear pathway to a career. When asked what inspired him the most about the JA Inspire experience, a Stephen Decatur Middle School student responded, "It wasn't really just one single thing. It was everything. Seeing all these different products and designs that have come out of these people doing their jobs just really inspired me to be successful in life so that I can do the things that they are doing." An Easton Middle School Student responded, "The one thing that inspired me most was seeing all the different careers and people, and knowing that my future is full of limitless possibilities!"
"We know many local students are not receiving career mentorship at home", said JAES President, Jayme Hayes. "So we have made it our mission to expose all these students to the world of work that exists right here on the Eastern Shore." Through research conducted nationwide, 8th grade was identified as the best opportunity to help a child begin to define their future career. It's the perfect age for mentorship and guided experiences, as they are beginning to select their coursework for high school. Development Manager, Lisa Thornton, said, "If students want to pick a CTE program, they can do so; if they know their desired career requires strong geometry skills, they can pay careful attention during that class; it all helps make the student's high school career more relevant and more fruitful."
With their JA Inspire event growing each year, a 129% increase from 2019 to be precise, JAES staff is already looking towards next year. "We had already begun planning for the next two years before the pandemic hit", said Hayes. "Planning the logistics of an event this size has been a bit tricky with the looming uncertainty of the 2020-2021 school year, but we are remaining positive and hopeful." JAES is currently exploring options involving the use of virtual technology to prepare for any possible continuation of distance learning. "The virtual conference platform allows the student to have a simulated JA Inspire experience. It's just like being inside of a convention center, but from home. We are still weighing our options, but want to be prepared for any situation", said Hayes. "If we need to go the virtual route, the platform still allows businesses the opportunity to provide a captivating, experiential, hands-on experience for students while still providing the exposure all of our local businesses are needing during this time of rebuilding. We believe the experience will continue to be impactful for years to come, no matter the delivery."
To get the full JAES FY20 impact on the shore's youth from the JA Inspire experience, and other JA programs visit https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-easternshore/ja-inspire.
About Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore
Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth, grades K-12 both public and private, on financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Our hands-on, age-appropriate programs inspire youth to live within their means, prepare for the world of work and understand the free enterprise system. Our programs are brought to life by local business members from the community. We are an enhancement to what kids learn in school and a direct link to real-life applications, making school relevant and increasing students' engagement in the classroom.