What if you could be the one person to truly make a difference in the future of our local children? Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore (JAES) hopes to do just that at its second annual JA Inspire event on February 27 when they bring the entire 8th-grade population of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset, Dorchester, Caroline, and Talbot counties to the Ocean City Convention Center. That’s 3,000 8th-graders in one place for the day.
“JA Inspire is not a career fair,” said JAES Development Manager, Lisa Thornton. “It’s a career exploration event 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 that looks like?”
Many local students are not receiving career mentorship at home so JAES has made it their mission to expose all these students to the world of work that exists right here on the Eastern Shore. The timing of the event is perfect as it occurs right before the 8th-graders are picking their high school coursework. Then, 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.
JAES attracted nearly 125 businesses to attend this event to show students about all of the high-wage, high-demand careers that exist right in their backyard. Local community colleges, universities, and apprenticeship programs will also be present to help students connect the dots on what skills and education they need for their future careers.
“You don’t have to go to college to be successful,” said JAES President, Jayme Hayes. “But you have to do something after high school. Our hope is that every student leaves this event with a game plan for their future.”
The public is invited to the opening reception on February 26 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. to view firsthand what the students will be experiencing. The kick-off presentation will be at 5 p.m.
Students were enthusiastic about last year’s inaugural event. One student’s takeaway was: “That you may not even know how much greatness is waiting for you. Seeing the jobs and careers gave me a strength to work hard and dream big.” Another student realized: “To know that in high school I really need to keep my grades up and know that one slip-up can really mess up what I want, and my future.”
JA Inspire once again is a culmination of an in-classroom curriculum where students take a career assessment and learned about essential interview skills such as how to dress and how to speak to a potential employer. Students are able to put these skills to work at JA Inspire. To learn more about JA Inspire, visit juniorachievement.org/web/jaeasternshore/ja-inspire.
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. Its hands-on, age-appropriate programs inspire youth to live within their means, prepare for the world of work and understand the free enterprise system. Programs are brought to life by local business members from the community. JA is 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.
Currently, dozens of volunteers are heading to the classroom to deliver JA Finance Park in middle school, JA Our Nation (fifth grade), JA Our Region (fourth grade), JA Our City (third grade), JA Our Community (second grade), JA Our Families (first grade), in schools on the Eastern Shore. Consider shadowing a session to learn more about becoming a volunteer educator in the classroom.
In other local JAES news, Bowl-a-Thons are slated for March 9 and April 20 in Easton to raise money to support programming. To learn how to get involved, visit www.engage.ja.org or www.easternshoreja.org or call 410-742-8112.