The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 19, 2022

Program brings JA Biztown to classroom

VW independent/submitted information

Because of COVID-19, Junior Achievement’s traditional programming model is no longer feasible. However, the organization is not waiting for the world to “return to normal” to carry on its mission. Through creative new options, such as JA BizTown In A Box, Junior Achievement is helping Van Wert’s young people spend more time planning for and dreaming about tomorrow — and less time worrying about today. 

This school year is unlike any other. Because of the ongoing threat of COVID-19, most educators are no longer able to offer many of the enrichment experiences (such as field trips and guest speakers) that brought their lessons to life. 

That is why, over the last year, the Junior Achievement organization has been making adjustments to its traditional programming. JA, a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare young people to succeed in the global economy, traditionally delivers lessons to students in classrooms through its network of community volunteers. 

The organization also offers two capstone experiences where students travel to Fort Wayne to participate in experiential learning simulations. 

One of JA’s most popular programs is the JA BizTown capstone program, which uses hands-on learning to teach students lessons about work readiness and the economy. Traditionally, after completing an in-class curriculum, students travel to the JA BizTown capstone facility, a fully interactive, student-sized city, where they are given the opportunity to become both employees and consumers. As employees, they work in small groups to operate the city’s various businesses. As consumers, they deposit their paychecks and are free to patronize the businesses of the town.

Of course, because of COVID-19, traveling to the JA BizTown capstone facility is now impossible for most schools. However, JA has come up with an innovative solution: “JA BizTown In A Box classroom kits. These locally developed kits give teachers everything they need to recreate a simplified version of the capstone experience in their own classrooms. 

The kits will include large “business posters” that can be used to create a backdrop and make the classroom feel like the authentic capstone space. With JA BizTown In A Box, students will still be assigned jobs at one of the various JA BizTown businesses, which they will be responsible for operating with their co-workers. However, for the classroom version, the production tasks will be simplified so that they can be completed with materials provided by JA. 

Traditionally, community volunteers help students to better understand their business and their jobs. For JA BizTown In A Box, JA has developed a series of videos in which volunteers share essential information with students. The kits will include a URL for each business’s video. Educator Dan Graney, who recently received the kit for his classroom, noted: “JA BizTown In A Box arrived today and wow! Wow, wow, wow! That is a very well planned, organized, and comprehensive unit.”

JA serving Van Wert County announces that students at Crestview Elementary School, Lincolnview Elementary School, and Van Wert Elementary School will be participating in this exciting new JA BizTown experience.

JA BizTown In A Box is an excellent way to safely bring the experiential nature of a JA BizTown simulation into the classroom,” said Karen Cooper, vice president of Capstone Experience for JA of Northern Indiana.  “We are fortunate to partner with local schools that recognize the value in the JA BizTown program for their students.”

POSTED: 02/28/21 at 11:50 pm. FILED UNDER: News