When you were young, did you have a dream or a “sure fire” idea that you wanted to make happen, but you didn’t exactly know how? So did Tara Bosch. She loved sweets, but didn’t like the unhealthy effects of all that sugar. In her quest to “kick sugar and keep candy,” she spent months in her kitchen testing recipes with her gummy bear mould. In 2016, she established a start-up company. Today this young Vancouver entrepreneur is the CEO and founder of SmartSweets, whose products are in over 20,000 stores across Canada and the U.S.A.
This year Junior Achievement BC celebrates 65 years as a partner in student learning, including here in School District 69 (Qualicum). Tara Bosch will be the special guest speaker at the JABC’s virtual anniversary party on December 3rd. Join the party and you could win prizes such as a VIP Registration Package to the RBC GranFondo Whistler or a Canuck’s heritage jersey signed by captain Bo Horvat.
JABC has helped shape the future of many local students. In 2015, a team of students from our community brought home the top award in BC.
SD 69 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Keven Elder connected us with teacher Toby Nowak who, for many years, both with elementary as well as secondary school students, has made good use of the resources and support provided by JABC. Nowak has taught for over 25 years in Burnaby and Vancouver, and now in the Qualicum School District. “I have been working with Junior Achievement every year since I started [teaching],” he says. He helped students set up “little businesses in school” and use “basic business programs like Our Business World and Dollars with Sense.” Nowak also challenged students with advanced business concepts using the Titan business simulation computer game.
Junior Achievement BC is a non profit organization that provides programs and resources free of charge to all schools in the province, supported by generous donors and sponsors. Their programs deliver a wide range of interactive, hands-on education in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, all aligned with BC’s new curriculum. A key component of JABC is that the programs are delivered through partnerships with educators and volunteers from local businesses.
In 2015 when Nowak was teaching at SD 69’s PASS-Woodwinds alternate school, a team of three of his students went to the finals of Junior Achievement’s High School Business Challenge competition. Competing against teams from 52 other schools across the province, the team won the whole competition, and were named the Titan champions of BC.
Now teaching at Springwood Elementary, Nowak uses JABC material in his Mini Exploratories program for grade 4 / 5 students, one component of the recently redesigned curriculum where students spend an hour per week engaged in a variety of learning activities such as outdoor pursuits, cooperative games, art, youth business and robotics projects.
Local volunteers lend entrepreneurial expertise
JABC not only provides teaching materials aligned with BC’s curriculum but also recruits local volunteers from the business community who come into the classroom and share their knowledge with the young learners. Nowak is a big fan of these volunteers. “Junior Achievement has been a great help to me when I was teaching high school and at the alternate school. Allowing students to see real world examples to go along with business theory has been very beneficial to many of my former students.”
All grade 3-5 students rotate through different mini electives for four or five classes, says Nowak. “As I have a B. of Commerce, I decided to offer Business as my Mini Exploratory. Junior Achievement offered to provide volunteers to teach our classes basic business topics like budgeting, entrepreneurship and how businesses assist our economy.” JABC even provides a certificate of completion for all students. For the past four years (not this year due to COVID-19) Nowak has had four or five different volunteers teach basic business concepts. “It has been a wonderful learning experience for our students,” he says.
One local long-time JABC volunteer, Richard Goodnough, now retired from his management career at TD Canada Trust, thoroughly enjoys co-facilitating classroom sessions with teachers like Toby Nowak. “The kids are so engaged, so excited” says Goodnough. One example of many that impressed him was the elementary school class of young entrepreneurs who, working as a team, created an enterprise to make and sell Christmas decorations — learning concepts of planning, budgeting, product design, manufacturing, pricing, and selling, capped by a very successful sales event! Goodnough emphasizes, “We really stress teamwork.” That sums up the whole synergy of combining the JABC programs with engaged teachers, keen students, knowledgeable and willing volunteers, all enabled by generous donors.
In the JABC video celebrating Ryan, Kyle and Antonio’s success at PASS-Woodwinds in 2015, readers may recognize QB resident Robert Duncan, another long-time JABC volunteer finding time, despite his busy accounting practice, to not only be in the classroom but also serve as a JABC Board member.
QB resident served as CEO of Junior Achievement of BC for over a decade
For more than a decade until retiring in 2017, QB resident Jan Bell-Irving was the CEO of Junior Achievement BC. Bell-Irving says she was committed to strategically enhancing JABC’s impact in two fundamental ways. First goal, broadening JABC’s reach and relevance from its big city roots out to all corners of the province. Second goal, broadening its focus, programs and resources to nurture the next generation of small business owners and operators who are the backbone of BC’s economy, particularly in smaller communities like QB. Mission accomplished.
Today, JABC is now supporting 40,000 students annually across 95% of the province’s school districts. JABC programs have continued to evolve, for example with expanded digital offerings accessible not only in the classroom but also on-line to enable students to self-pace their learning where and when it works for them. Very timely when a pandemic strikes.
Bell-Irving has been the consummate champion of JABC’s stated purpose: “To inspire, prepare, and empower BC youth for lifelong success.” Deborah Wakeham, current VP of Programs for JABC was grateful for Bell-Irving’s leadership and support in helping Wakeham, then JABC Regional Manager for Vancouver Island, and her team expand their reach beyond Victoria-Sooke-Saanich to include the other nine school districts on Vancouver Island north of the Malahat.
Reminder: JABC invites you to join them for a one hour anniversary celebration webcast on the afternoon of Thursday, December 3, 2020. Visit https://jabc.ca/jabcs-65th-anniversary/ to register in advance, and you could win some nifty prizes.
Should you be interested in joining the brigade of volunteers who help JABC deliver their programs – both in-class and virtually – contact the current Vancouver Island regional manager Marvelee Papaloukas at Marvelee.Papaloukas@jabc.org. Opportunities to make a difference through donations, for example to support JABC’s current Adopt a School campaign, can be found at https://jabc.ca/donate-to-JA/ .