During social studies, second graders are learning about government, economics and communities and how they work together. Throughout the unit, community leaders volunteered to teach Junior Achievement (JA) Our Community. Initiated in Spencer Schools by the Iowa Great Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, JA Our Community is an interdisciplinary program, that supports the attainment of academic standards of work readiness, with a secondary focus on social studies, business, economics, reading, writing and mathematics. Through the five hands-on units, JA Our Community teaches students how citizens benefit from and contribute to a community's success.
One of the community volunteers who taught the JA Our Community curriculum was Bill Orrison. He has enjoyed the experience and seemed at ease with the students as he taught the lesson focused on voting, which is especially important as an elected official himself. Students were given three choices of ways they could make a difference with their school: recycling bottles, cans and paper, completing an art project to have on display or making a butterfly garden. They discussed the different ideas in groups, and then as a class, listed the pros and cons of each. Following the discussion, students voted by filling out a ballot and then counted the ballots to see what project got the majority. Though this was Orrison’s third year participating, it was his first year that students have selected the art project. Once it was determined that the art project was the winner, Orrison explained how voting is an important part of the community and in government, and people with the most votes get elected.
To finish the unit, the second-grade teachers held a career day, inviting additional community members to discuss their jobs, and eight individuals from wide ranging areas jumped at the chance. Second grade teacher, Emily Beaton, said that each volunteer was given a list of essential questions from the unit so what they talked about aligned with what the students learned.
Kory Voss, Stephanie Thiessen and Dr. David Keith the medical field. After hearing from Voss, one student said, “I want to be the nurse that helps get the baby out.” Another added, “I want to help people too.”
When visiting with second grader, Morgan, she said that she really enjoyed hearing from Myles Musser of H & N Chevrolet Buick. “I liked talking about the cars. I learned about the prices of cars and the speed they could get up to.”
Rounding out the list of volunteers included Todd Krebsbach of Krebsbach Landscaping, Teresa Ball of ILCC, Clay County Sheriff, Randy Krukow, and Superintendent of Spencer Schools, Terry Hemann.