Junior Achievement

Have you heard of Junior Achievement? It is a partnership approach to education involving community volunteers and classrooms.  Junior Achievement connects businesses and education by recruiting community volunteers to come into elementary school classrooms and facilitate five – hour long economics orientated lessons. My husband and I were Junior Achievement volunteers for three years. We followed my son’s 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes. What rewarding experience!

I attended the Grand Forks Public Schools Junior Achievement Appreciation Luncheon recently. The guest speakers included Melly Drake, 4th grade teacher from Thompson, ND and two of her students who participated in Junior Achievement last year. The students, Jacob Thomsen and Whitney Kornkven, gave a presentation titled, “The Top 10 reasons why they liked Junior Achievement.” Their number one reason for liking JA was because of their community volunteer, Lisa Tetrault-Sonterre from Edward Jones.

Pictured from left to right front: Melly Drake, 4th grade teacher from Thompson,  Whitney Kornkven and Jacob Thomsen, students from Thompson, Joyce Larson, GFPS JA Coordinator, left to right back: Lisa Tetrault-Sonterre, Volunteer from Edward Jones and John Maus, Elementary Principal from Thompson.

Here are a few facts prospective volunteers may want to know about the local Junior Achievement Program:


  • is very user friendly
  • is tried and true and makes learning fun
  • consists of five – one hour lessons teaching economics and so much more
  • increases students’ economic literacy at least 27% when they have consecutive years
  • can be used cross curricularily and correlates with state and district standards in many subject areas


  • adds new dimension to the classroom
  • supports and enhances what students are learning
  • promotes active learning and brings theory to life
  • helps bridge the gap between education and business
  • provides career and character education through adults sharing their life experiences

History and Description of Grand Forks Consortium Schools Junior Achievement Program Junior Achievement (JA) is an international non-profit educational organization that partners business, community, and education teaching economics since 1919. Currently, JA reaches over 4 million students in the US and extends globally to approximately 5 million in over 112 countries worldwide.

In 1995, Junior Achievement was brought to the attention of the Grand Forks Public Schools by local businessman, Dave Vaaler. JA was initiated in 1996 as a 12 classroom pilot program to be previewed by the GFPS Social Studies committee. Since they felt JA correlates very well with district social studies curriculum, the school board approved implementation of the program in all Grade 4 classrooms to enhance the North Dakota Studies curriculum. JA is available to ALL GFPS classrooms in Grades K-5; teachers need only to complete a registration form at the beginning of the school year. The following elementary schools of the Grand Forks Consortium, have participated in Junior Achievement at grade levels of their choice: Central Valley – grades K, 1, 2 ,3, 4, 6; Emerado – grades 3/4 & 5/6, Larimore – grades 4 & 5; Manvel – grades 2,3 & 4, Northwood – grades 2, 4, 5 & 6 and Thompson – grades 4, 5 & 6.

Over the years, the GFPS JA program has evolved from a 12-classroom pilot to a program including 116 classrooms in ALL 18 Grand Forks Consortium elementary schools during the 2009-10 school year.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Junior Achievement, contact Joyce Larson, JA coordinator at: joyce.larson@gfschools.org or call her 746-2407 ext 814.

Visit the GFPS JA site by clicking here

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