January and February were exciting months for the general program team. We held two large scale JA Career Success Workshops, at Rutgers and DeVry Universities modeling the successful Workshop held at Stockton University in December. After months of high schoolers competing, the JA Titan Competition came to a close in February with first, second, and third place winners coming from across the state. The next two months hold a lot more in store for our programs with many more Career Success Workshops, JA Days, and Women's Future Leadership Forums. Spotlighted this time are two people who empower New Jersey's youth to own their economic success on a grand scale! 

March 23, 2016

JA Spotlight 

Heather Staples
The High School Heroes Initiative has met an incredible amount of success and is currently expanding across the state. This Initiative has been able to thrive under the support and guidance of invaluable educators and mentors. One such, is Ms. Heather Staples of Manchester Township High School. Ms. Staples has been an English teacher at Manchester Township High School for the past 16 years. She received her Bachelor's degree from Flagler College and currently serves as the advisor of Student Council and is an active member of the Future Educators Association. A large proponent of financial literacy, Ms. Staples also oversees the High School Heroes Initiative in Manchester Township, and under her tireless guidance, the Initiative has been able to thrive successfully for the past 7 years. In that span of time, the High School Heroes Initiative has been able to reach all of the elementary schools in Manchester Township and will soon reach the middle school level.

Ms. Staples encourages all of her students to participate in the High School Heroes Initiative as it gives students a chance to be leaders in a new setting and gives them an opportunity to find their confidence. Ms. Staples believes the program fosters a spirit of learning, collaborating and risk-taking in a safe environment. Students practice their public speaking skills and network with volunteers across the state. When asked if she had any advice for educators looking to start the High School Heroes initiative, Ms. Staples responded, "Be patient and persistent. Sometimes it's difficult to find funding for this Initiative, but once you do, it is so worth it! The students love it and it is a great experience for all!" She hopes to see this Initiative expand across the state of New Jersey within the next couple of years. Thank you Ms. Staples, and we hope to see more educators promote this amazing Initiative across the state.

Sarah Hall and Will Leiner at a J&J JA Day in Trenton
Johnson & Johnson
This month we're acknowledging Johnson and Johnson for all they do for JA. Ethicon hosted the NJFBLA Titan State Tournament and J&J held a JA day. In the upcoming months, J&J volunteers will participate in the Central Women's Leadership Forum and  another JA Day at Sampson G. Smith elementary with Franklin High School Heroes in Franklin Township. In order to get more information about J&J's involvement with JA we asked Sarah Hall, a central board member, a few questions. 

How did you get involved with Junior Achievement?
My family has been involved with Junior Achievement for years with both my father and brother serving as JA volunteers.  When I came to Johnson & Johnson I was excited to help connect our volunteers with the JA mission and grow our engagement.

What value does Johnson & Johnson get by partnering with Junior Achievement?
Johnson & Johnson has a strong commitment to supporting the communities in which we live and work and our volunteers are attracted to how Junior Achievement's curriculum promotes workplace readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.  That's why they sign up to volunteer. The volunteers continue to come back year after year, because of the fun they had investing in these young minds and the positive impact they make on the students. 

What does Junior Achievement mean to you?
I love the enthusiasm the students have when you come into the classroom.  They are genuinely appreciative of the time you're serving as a mentor, to teach them something new and understand what dreams they have for their future.  Most of the time we are planting seeds, so I hope that one day in their future as a young leader- when they really need it- they recall the time we spent together and feel empowered in their decisions.

Past Events
JA Career Success Workshops
Employers are seeing a decline in the soft skills of their new hires. New employees sometimes have trouble with things like resolving conflict, working in teams, and coming up with solutions to a sudden problem. Using a combination of the 4 "Cs", creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, all of the Career Success sessions help students know the skills they need to get a job and launch a career. It's one thing for students to have all the technical skills for their dream job, but soft skills are just as, if not more, important to have a successful career. The Career Success Workshop is often the first time students are exposed to these concepts, providing students the skills needed to bridge their high school experience to college or to the work world. 

Career Success Workshops held at universities are not only a great opportunity for high school students. They give university employees and students the opportunity to be more involved in the community where they reside. One hundred percent  of our Career Success volunteers expressed the experience made them feel more connected to their community.

Based on the tremendous success of these Workshops JA plans to expand this program going in to next school year!

Stockton University - December 1, 2015

56 Students from Absegami, Cedar Creek, Delsea, Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy, Pleasantville JROTC, and St. Joseph High Schools participated in this Career Success workshop held at Stockton University. 20  Stockton University students stepped up to be volunteer-mentors as well as Jean Abbott, Claudine Keenan, Dean of School of Education, Elizabeth Elmore, Director of Stockton Center for Economics and Financial Literacy made this day possible. Thank you! 

Yikes! Students work together to save their structure from falling during one of the sessions on collaboration and creativity.

Rutgers University - January 6, 2016
119 students from Franklin, Piscataway, J.P. Stevens, New Brunswick and Passaic County Technical Schools participated in the first Career Success Workshop at Rutgers Business School in Piscataway. 10 Rutgers University and 2 corporate volunteers from the area made this day possible. 

Franklin High School FBLA advisor, Ron Richter had this to say about the day, "My students not only benefited from the various career-shaping activities, but also by being in a college atmosphere." 
Mukesh Patel, founder and CEO of Juice Tank, addressed all the high school students in a keynote speech about creativity and T he Box.  Many students said Mukesh's advice was the best part of the day!

DeVry University - January 19, 2016
57 high school students from UCTEAMS Charter school and Trenton Catholic Academy participated in this day. 7 DeVry volunteer mentors, including Interim President and Dean of Admissions, Joe Konopka served as inspiring mentors for the day.

Joe Konopka with a session of his students from UCTEAMS and Trenton Catholic Academy.

Final JA Titan Competition at Ethicon
On February 12, 2016, Ethicon Inc. hosted the NJFBLA JA Titan State tournament, with several high schools in attendance. Each team from these schools had previously competed in and won a regional competition. The game this time would be the same, a market-based program selling "holo-generators," a futuristic product. As the event began, groups worked away furiously at their laptops, some groups bringing one laptop per group member. As they analyzed the program and the other groups in the first round, members from some leading teams gave their feedback about the competition.

CNC, the second place team from Piscataway High School with their advisors, Greg Michaels and and Nancy  Ostrowski, the FBLA state chair.

Chelsea Wong, a Junior at Piscataway High School and a member of team CNC - which won second place - was modest about her team's attendance at the state conference. "We didn't expect [to make states] ...last year, we didn't make regionals." Nevertheless, her team was organized and democratically run, each of the three members voting on each decision in the game, representing their values of fairness and their perseverance in the tournament. Chelsea has ambitions to work with HOPE, a nonprofit organization that seeks to free wrongly incarcerated people. She believes that JA Titan has helped her to think on her feet and has prepared her in applications other than merely business.

The Jets, the third place team from Morris Hills High School, with their advisor Lauren Jackson and  Nancy  Ostrowski, the FBLA state chair.

Pranay Maniar, a junior from Morris Hills High School and a member of The Jets - which won third place - was much more confident in his team's abilities, quoting his team's success in the regional tournament. With his confidence comes a deep passion for business and plans to "pursue an MBA after [his Bachelor's degree] in biomedical engineering." He matter-of-factly stated that the game was "just making decisions based on how the market is working," and boldly announced his intention of someday becoming the CEO of Novartis, a competitor of Johnson and Johnson.

Yoshi City, from Montgomery High School, with their advisor  Karen Cohen and Nancy Ostrowski, the FBLA state chair.

Barring Pranay's sardonic humor, the tournament on the whole was all business. During a break in the middle, Ethicon showcased its variety of medical instruments, including the Harmonic Ace +7, an advanced, minimally invasive instrument used to cauterize and cut blood vessels. At the conclusion of the event, three prizes were given to the winners: 1st place, Yoshi City (Montgomery High School) with a $1000 prize; 2nd place, CNC (Piscataway High School) with a $500 prize, and 3rd place, The Jets (Morris Hills High School) with a $250 prize.

All 8 teams competed furiously throughout the day! Great Job everyone! 

Thank you to all the Volunteer High School Interns for their help in putting the Spotlight together! Stay tuned for the next issue in May! 
Junior Achievement of New Jersey | gioia.kennedy@ja.org |  www.janj.org
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