Robert Beier and Edward McLyman aren't teachers by profession, but as volunteers with Junior Achievement they spend a lot of time in the classroom.
"I wanted to help kids discover where they are going. I want to teach them about the job opportunities available to them," said Mr. Beier, the energy services team leader at Georgia Power. He has been volunteering for about 13 years.
Mr. McLyman, district manager for Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors, said he was encouraged to get involved with Junior Achievement three years ago after seeing some "successful people making poor financial decisions."
"My passion with JA is to teach them about the economy and how the system works. Our economy is changing. Rules that applied to my generation are not the same rules that apply to younger generations," he said.
Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization, acts as a connector between the classroom and area businesses, said Laurie Cook, the executive director.
"Employers don't always know what is going on in the classrooms, and teachers don't always know what employers are looking for. JA is a great and easy way for businesses to get involved in education and for teachers to also learn how they can prepare students for the work force," she said.
To raise money for its programs, Junior Achievement is planning a Strikes for Success Bowl-a-thon on Friday, Feb. 29, and Saturday, March 1, at Brunswick Lanes on Washington Road.
Junior Achievement programs focus on financial literacy, character improvement and work-force development. They also meet state and national education standards, Ms. Cook said.
The program is in 14 Richmond County schools. It also serves students in Columbia, McDuffie, Burke and Jenkins counties in Georgia and Edgefield and Aiken counties in South Carolina. The programs are not mandated for schools, so teachers must contact the organization to have it come to their classrooms, she added.
The organization brings professionals into the school environments and provides job-shadowing days for students. Last week, 261 students from Richmond, Columbia and Lincoln counties participated in job-shadowing day.
"It gives them the opportunity to see if they want to do something or, just as important, helps them to realize that a particular career isn't for them," Ms. Cook said.
It's just as important for the volunteers to be exposed to the classrooms, Mr. McLyman said.
"Each community has its own set of issues and ways of doing things, all which impact the students and how they view their future. You really get a glimpse of what the community is like in the classroom," he said.
Volunteering also means providing inspiration for the students, Mr. Beier said.
"Some students feel discouraged because of where they are from or feel that their circumstances mean that they won't be successful," he said. "But I tell them, 'It's not about where you start; it's about what you put in that will affect the outcome.' "
Mr. McLyman agreed.
"I think we bring a lot of hope into the classrooms. The element of hope is huge. It's a great investment in the students," he said.
There are 350 volunteers, but many more are needed because of the demand for the program in area schools, Ms. Cook said.
If you would like to volunteer or would like to obtain more information on the Junior Achievement program, call Ms. Cook at (706) 736-3070.
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or email@example.com.
WHAT: Strikes for Success Bowl-a-thon, a benefit for Junior Achievement
WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29; noon to 3 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. Saturday, March 1
WHERE: Brunswick National Lanes, Washington Road
COST: $25 per player minimum
REGISTER: Teams of five, must register by Wednesday, Feb. 27
INFORMATION: (706) 736-3070 or lcook@geor gia.ja.org