JA volunteer and retiree Tom Durkin continues to inspire

Tom Durkin makes economics fun for primary school students
Tom Durkin makes economics fun for primary school students

On any given weekday, Tom Durkin’s backseat is overflowing with at least half a dozen 10-lb, clear plastic “briefcases.” Inside are hours’ worth of games and activities that help him inspire 2nd , 3rd and 4th graders to dream big, work hard and own their future success.

Tom is a proud member of the JA Apple Society – a group of select JA volunteers who have impacted 250 students or more. He has volunteered his time through Junior Achievement for decades, and he estimates that he has taught more than 3,000 young people since 2010.

Tom first got involved with JA when he was a young professional working for American Express. He was recruited to teach the JA Company Program, an after school club that engaged high school students in launching a small business.

As Tom approached retirement, he found that his real passion was working with younger students, and he now focuses on primary grades. The kids he teaches not only benefit from his years of experience in the finance industry, but he makes learning basic economic concepts fun. When asked why he continues to volunteer, Tom says “I think I’m the one who actually benefits the most – those kids teach me something new every day. They are a joy to be around. I would encourage retirees, especially those who enjoy young children, to look into this opportunity.”

The students and teachers that Tom works with are grateful for his ongoing dedication and positive influence. It’s not uncommon for a 5th grader to receive a smile and a wave from Mr. Durkin as he walks down the halls of a partner school, JA kit in hand, ready to teach a new class of 2nd graders.