I was thrilled to participate recently in two Junior Achievement teaching days with my Celanese colleagues Gretchen Rosswurm and Phil McDivitt as we co-taught a kindergarten and a third grade class at MC Lively Elementary in Irving, Texas.

It was a blast! Junior Achievement is a well-organized, straight-forward program that allows career professionals the opportunity to share their life experiences and make a difference in the lives of elementary students. I have taught children in the past, but no experience is required to volunteer. From my recent experience, I would like to share a few helpful tips.

First, it’s easy to connect with children if you’re willing to be a little silly. Let’s just say I have not danced as much as I did that day in quite a while, but it was well worth it!  Impromptu games are also a great way to allow the kids to take a break and stretch.  The third graders loved Phil’s version of “Simon Says” that he cleverly renamed “Phil says”.

Second, when in doubt, bring a prop! Reflecting back on my elementary school days, I remember how I used to perform puppet shows in the library club. It was a last minute decision, but I thought it would be a fun visual for this JA teaching day. Well, Clyde the chicken was a success! Not only was he a hit in the classroom when I read to the students about visiting a family farm, but I was getting smiles from people in the hallways – along with a few laughs from my colleagues.  Another idea is to bring something simple to give to the students to reinforce the lesson.  During the third grade graduation ceremony we distributed Irving city maps!  The students loved opening them up and finding their elementary school, homes and familiar landmarks.

Our JA Day with MC Lively kindergarteners this year had us reading five stories, followed by a hands-on activity. Students learned about responsibility, helping others, and how to earn and save money.  And, yes, it was as easy as reading a book. Third grade required a little more planning.  I met with my partner early in the week and felt well prepared after reviewing the materials one evening.  Students learned about city planning and how to start a business.  One of the featured businesses was a newspaper.  It was fun for me to share with them a front page newspaper article I wrote in high school for my local city paper back in the day.  The time with the students gave them a role model to look up to, instilled in them an appreciation for learning, and hopefully encouraged them to make personal goals for the future.

I look forward to participating again in the future. For those Celanese employees in Dallas, I hope to see you there!