The School that Changed My Life

Maria Miranda, development director at Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland <> , wanted to share this inspiring story with her JA colleagues. It was sent to her by a young JA volunteer named Megan Keller. Megan?s personal essay is a touching tribute to what JA can do.?[Carl and Louis Stokes Academy] <>At 5:45 a.m. on a cold, snowy Cleveland, Ohio day, most people usually want to stay curled up in bed. I am usually one of those people. This day was different. I barely slept?all night because I was nervous. Surprisingly, by the morning I was happy and strangely?confident. Lord only knows why, I was a junior at Kent State University <> studying fashion?merchandising. What on Earth did I know about teaching children life skills? But that?s?what I?d be doing that day?JA Blitz Day. It?s the one day out of the year that I will spring?out of bed early with no hassle and put on a business suit.On JA Blitz Day, Parker Hannifin sends volunteers to teach JA programs at Carl and?Louis Stokes Academy. Each business associate (or, in my case, daughter of a business?associate) prepares a four-hour presentation. There was one boy in particular in my?class who touched my heart that day. He made me realize I was not going to be a?fashion runway coordinator; I was going to be a teacher.The boy kicked over a desk when he found out he was going to be missing gym to listen?to some lady in a suit talk about the value of a dollar. Soon, however, he was?participating, and his peers were encouraging him, telling him how much fun they were?having with me. I was in awe. All of these kids worked so well together and made?the session amazing. At the end of the day, that boy thanked me personally for coming?and gave me a hug.All of the students were great. Just because they live in a lower-income area like the?inner city of Cleveland does not mean they don?t have great attitudes, creativity and?expression. They absolutely do. They wanted to participate in the activities and did a?phenomenal job. I was extremely impressed with the students and with Carl and Louis?Stokes Academy. The experience opened my eyes and made me realize that I wanted?to be a part of that. As soon as JA Blitz Day concluded, I changed my major to?education.Teaching Junior Achievement helped me see clearly. It helped me realize my true?passion and joy, and how I could use my skills to help young people learn. People tell?you when you sign up to volunteer for Junior Achievement that you will never understand?how much of an impact you make on children?s lives by coming in and showing them?they?re worth your time, your effort, and that you have faith in them. Those people?obviously never had the experience I did, because I did not change these students? lives.?They changed mine.

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