Junior Achievement: Volunteer steps up to keep instruction going

Karl Loveless, a resident and business owner in South Charleston, is a long-time Junior Achievement volunteer. When COVID-19 closed schools, he found a way to continue providing economic and business lessons to area students.

(Posted April 30, 2020)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

South Charleston resident and business owner Karl Loveless is putting his computer skills to work to create online classes for students interested in Junior Achievement (JA) at Southeastern Local Schools’ Miami View Elementary and Springfield City Schools’ Fulton Elementary.

Traditionally taught in the classroom by volunteers, JA introduces students to financial and economic literacy through life-skills development.

Armed with traditional JA materials geared for third- and fifth-graders, Loveless is hybridizing the material to appeal to a slightly broader range of students. He said demand from teachers for online lessons skyrocketed following Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s school closure declarations related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Loveless hopes to have the material available early this month—recorded, accessible, and as timeless as possible. Pending final JA management approval, Loveless intends for the distance learning lessons to be accessible to any student, parent or teacher anywhere, anytime.

“I’m a web developer and IT guy who’s creating a more elaborate online system of teaching than just a laptop camera and mic,” he said.

“First, I had to get my own technological infrastructure set up—a home studio of cameras and lighting. JA has given our regional JA offices—we few volunteers able to do this—a green light to mix and match material as we deem appropriate.”

Loveless’s tenure as a JA volunteer goes back a dozen years in high school classrooms and in a few third- and eighth-grade classes, as well. He got involved with the organization after volunteering in the state’s Ohio Reads program in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ohio Reads was a state sponsored program for trained volunteers to tutor students having difficulty with their early reading skills. Loveless worked with students one-on-one in first- through third-grade classrooms at Miami View and Fulton. He also has taught programs at the high school level in Springfield City Schools.

“One of the Miami View Elementary teachers recommended me to the JA office and I never looked back,” recalled Loveless, who joined the Mad River Region JA board three years ago.

“I’ve told people that since my livelihood is freelance with some time flexibility and since I don’t play golf, volunteering with JA is a hobby–one that positively affects young people,” he said.

Michael Rivera, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Southeastern High School, can attest to the positive impact Loveless has had on students.

“He taught two specific groups of students, College and Career Readiness (my ninth-graders) and Consumer Economics (my 12th-graders). The lessons he brought to my classroom involved preparing to be productive employees and wise financially literate adults.”

Rivera said Loveless created a website with current and relevant information that he used in his classroom presentations.

“He is a bright man with a creative mind,” Rivera said. “He also has a passion for his community and feels it is his duty and opportunity to invest in the young people who will be entrusted with the community in the not so far future.”

About Junior Achievement

While JA is more than 100 years old, the organization really hit its stride in the late 1970s with an emphasis on life skills and personal planning related to business and the economy. The people teaching the material are real-world businesspeople who volunteer their time to show what is possible and how adults apply their own education.

Michelle Speas, president of JA’s Mad River Region, has a background in accounting and business management and worked in the non-profit sector for 15 years.

“Watching my daughters navigate life after high school, it became clear to me that students don’t always know what their options are,” Speas said. “They lack the tools to make an educated decision, and that’s a tough spot to be when you have to decide what you are doing next with your life.

“JA gives me an opportunity to reach students at all ages and give them some tools that can hopefully make that decision a little easier. Junior Achievement’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.”

JA programs, volunteer-led for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, are free to all schools in the Mad River Region. Age-appropriate classroom material—with hands-on activities—fosters work-readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship

“Having a volunteer deliver the programs gives the students a real-life perspective,” Speas said. “For example, a third-grade program, JA Our City, is taught by the city’s mayor. Teaching children how to plan a city and how it all works together, being taught by the mayor–how cool is that?”

More than 7,000 students were served through 38,000 contact hours for the 2018-2019 school year in the Mad River Region. Speas said the organization was on target to reach even more students this year until COVID-19 impacted education.

In response, JA added new all-remote learning resources, like the ones Loveless is developing, with recordings and online activities for students and teachers in all interested schools.

The average cost for program kits, which include instructional material, handouts, educational games and more, is $50. Loveless said the organization is always in need of donations, both personal and corporate.

“Our JA offices are constantly working to keep overhead to a minimum and optimize outcomes for the students,” he said. “As a board member, I am exceptionally pleased with the enthusiasm and efforts of our JA staff, both locally and nationally.”

Visit www.madriver.ja.org for more information.

Junior Achievement Virtual ‘Best Ball’ Tournament

June 1-15 at Reid Golf Course, 1325 S. Bird Rd, Springfield

FIRST: Go to https://madriver.ja.org/ to purchase a foursome entry–$300 with a cart or $250 without a cart. The package includes: greens fees for four (with or without cart), goody bags with snacks and drinks, and chances to win prizes.

SECOND: Pick a date between June 1 and June 15 to play your “best ball’ round. Play an 18-hole round with your team, following best ball rules. At end of the round, fill in the official score card, snap a photo of your team card and your team, email the photos to Junior Achievement, and turn in the card at the Reid Park Pro Shop. Tee times are subject to availability.

For more information, contact Crystal at csteiner@jrachieve.net or visit https://madriver.ja.org/.


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