JA High School Heroes Spend Day at Local Elementary School in Partnership with TIAA

“It was very fun teaching these kids, they were very enthusiastic and excited about everything they learned. They participated in every activity we did together, and they are just so fun to be around.”

-Issac, Sophomore at Bruce Randolph School

In celebration of April being Financial Literacy Month, Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain (JA) hosted a JA High School Heroes Day at Swansea Elementary School in Denver. In partnership with TIAA, more than 50 high school students from Bruce Randolph School played the role of teachers in kindergarten through 2nd-grade classrooms, implementing JA programming to elementary students.

JA High School Heroes provides leadership development opportunities to high school students who deliver JA programs in elementary schools. Student presenters are prepared by JA over six weeks to facilitate engaging learning activities that focus on financial literacy, work and career readiness, and entrepreneurship. Bruce Randolph students were in nine classrooms ranging from kindergarten to 2nd grade with assistance from TIAA mentors, while volunteers from TIAA were in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms. The JA High School Heroes not only delivered the curriculum, but many did so in both English and Spanish as ESL elementary students were participating.

From teaching kindergartners the importance of saving and giving through read-aloud activities to introducing 2nd graders to the types of skills and knowledge necessary to be a productive worker in their community, the program engages both sets of students and helps make a connection between what is being taught in school and the world outside of the classroom. The elementary students see the high schoolers as role models, and the student presenters gain public speaking skills while making a direct impact on the children they are teaching.

“It’s very cool that we get to have this experience with the children,” said Medinah, a Bruce Randolph JA High School Heroes participant. “I remember being a little kid and I used to look up to people who were older than me, especially teenagers, and now that I’m able to have that same impact on these students, it was awesome.”

TIAA, a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions, has partnered with JA for many years and has a long history of supporting Metro Denver schools, receiving a Denver Public Schools Partner of the Year award during the 2019/20 school year for its work to broaden college access for Bruce Randolph students by connecting them with college admissions offices, providing transportation to college visits, and funding an annual scholarship. 

“TIAA understands the importance of introducing financial literacy concepts at an early age. That’s why our partnership with Junior Achievement is so important,” said Julie Cross, Community Impact Director at TIAA. “We invest in programs like JA High School Heroes as it not only builds a foundation for young learners, but it also instills confidence in the older students as they learn and then deliver the curriculum.”

Seeing JA’s mission of inspiring young people to succeed actively come to life during the JA High School Heroes program added to the experience for all parties.

“These kids are smart and compassionate, and it’s important to keep them wanting to learn. I loved it, I can’t wait to come back,” said Daniel, a sophomore at Bruce Randolph School.

“It’s hard to put into words the impact the day had on these students and adults,” added Cross. “I wish I could bottle up the excitement, emotion, confidence, and passion that was present from the time our TIAA volunteers and Bruce Randolph School students arrived, and throughout the day, it was nothing short of amazing!”