As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child” — and in our case it takes a community to educate one. Atlantis partners with a variety of organizations to give students the skills and knowledge they need to be successful as adults. Some of these partners are unique to Atlantis, others, like Junior Achievement, support public schools and their students across the country.
You may remember Junior Achievement (JA) from when you were a child. The national organization, formed in 1919, serves to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Today, Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts serves 21 cities and towns across our region, working with nearly 50 schools and impacting more than 6,000 young people. Programs are 100% free to schools and students.
Indeed, Junior Achievement plays a huge role in schools in southern Massachusetts, but you may be surprised to learn just how deep the partnership runs with Atlantis both inside and outside of the classroom.
JA offers a large selection of programs for students in grades K-12 in the core content areas of career readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Schools choose the programs best aligned with their curriculum. This past school year, every student in grades K-6 at the Lower School and 7-10 at the Upper School participated in a JA program.
The programs in grades 9 & 10 are woven into the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy curriculum.
“When we started planning for the Career Academies, we discussed giving Junior Achievement a strategic position in the first two years of the academies,” said Michael Lauro, associate executive director of Atlantis Charter School. “As freshmen and sophomores, students are figuring out which academy is right for them. JA has a very high quality curriculum that fits very well with the introduction to our Business and Entrepreneurship Academy.”
Programs are taught by volunteers, just one of the ways JA is able to connect students to industry. The volunteers come from different job sectors so students can hear from a wide variety of people. Some volunteers are CEOs at major companies, some are C-Suite employees, and others may be entrepreneurs just starting their own business. Together they represent a wide subset of the community.
Job Shadow Program:
Another way JA connects students at Atlantis to industry is through job shadow experiences. JA arranges opportunities for students to get out of the classroom and into the workplace. This past year, Atlantis students got to see what it would be like to work in different career fields.
Students in the Health, Med-Tech, and Sports Medicine Academy visited Prima CARE, a large medical practice serving Fall River and the SouthCoast. They also attended Health Care Career Day at St. Anne’s Hospital to learn about hospital careers as well as careers in robotics as it relates to healthcare. Students in the Teacher Development Academy attended Future Educators Day at Bridgewater State University and learned about careers in education. Those events were possible thanks to the support of JA.
Titan Business Challenge:
In March, a three-student team from the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy took part in JA’s 6th annual Titan Business Challenge, a day-long business strategy competition at UMass Dartmouth. They competed against other high school teams using an online business simulation. A business mentor from the community offered guidance during the competition.
These programs expose Atlantis students to in-demand careers and the people who work in those fields. They connect students to a variety of businesses in Fall River and across the region. Students get to learn from some of the very people who are hiring for the jobs they will one day fill. The partnership is also creating pathways to internships for Atlantis students because the organizations that partner with JA are aware of Atlantis’s senior internship program.
“Our JA programs have had a positive impact on the students, and I think that speaks to our partnership with Atlantis,” said Jeffrey Pelletier, president of Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts. “JA and Atlantis are reinforcing a lot of the same concepts. Atlantis is working hard to prepare its students for college and career. As a nonprofit, we can come in and re-emphasize some of those things in a different way, either by taking them out to see different businesses and industry, or bringing industry people into the classroom. At the end of the day, we’re helping prepare these students for bright futures. They will be the future leaders of the region, so this is important work.”
Lauro says he is grateful for the partnership and he would like to see it continue to grow. He sees opportunities to expand the JA program in the 7th and 8th grades so that it will become more of an experiential process to prepare students for the Career Academies in high school.
“Junior Achievement is a wonderful organization, and we are proud to work with Jeffrey Pelletier and his team,” Lauro said. “Its mission is closely aligned with ours, and as far as partnerships go, it’s one of our best.”