Rocky Mountain Deaf School Visits JA Free Enterprise Center

In February, a group of high school students from the Rocky Mountain Deaf School in Jefferson County visited the Junior Achievement (JA) Free Enterprise Center and experienced Robert and Judi Newman JA Finance Park, presented by Transamerica, and the Daniels Fund JA Dream Accelerator.

Founded in 1997, the Rocky Mountain Deaf School has provided Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing children with a free education with full proficiency in American Sign Language and English literacy. The driving force behind the school is a theme of research-based academic programs with an intellectually stimulating environment.

With the help of teachers, interpreters, and JA staff, these students first visited JA Finance Park. They went through the hands-on, realistic simulation where they learned how to budget and plan for real-life expenses such as insurance, transportation, childcare, and post-secondary education. The technology and visuals throughout the simulation helped guide students through each aspect of life.

“It was a great experience for them because it was easy to visually see what each pod and industry was that we were discussing,” said Heather Hapke, a high school transition teacher at Rocky Mountain Deaf School. “When we were talking about cars, there was a big sign that said Toyota and pictures of cars, so it was easy for the students to know what was being talked about, and it clicked. That was a huge benefit.”

The following week, the same group of students visited the Daniels Fund JA Dream Accelerator, where they realized their strengths and interests and how they align with different careers. Staff from the school raved about the uniqueness of the program.

“Most field trips we just go to, it’s hard to participate and have our students experience the same things that other students do,” said Bryan Solis, middle and high school mathematics teacher. “But because this program is so interactive, you could see things resonating with them. They were realizing how their dreams could apply to their futures. Some of them are interested in science but had no idea how they could break into the field, but with the JA Dream Accelerator, they now know there are so many possibilities within that industry.”

“It’s so important for them to have this hands-on, visual experience where they can follow the steps mostly independently,” Hapke added.

Solis and Hapke both said that having the curriculum provided to the school by JA beforehand was very beneficial and helped the students understand what they would be experiencing during their visit to the JA Free Enterprise Center. They hope the school continues to utilize these programs.

“I hope they keep coming back,” said Hapke. “This is incredibly important and beneficial to not just the students, but our staff as well.”

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Junior Achievement is committed to an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity. We are dedicated to providing a positive, enriching learning experience free of bias that promotes greater economic opportunity. We welcome K-12 students, volunteers, educators, staff, and other partners and stakeholders, regardless of race, religion, age, gender, gender identity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic.