I live in central Illinois because I want to—it is as simple as that. Many high schoolers, though, had already begun devising plans to flee our fertile crescent about the time they hit seventh grade. Junior Achievement (JA) thwarts this faulty mindset by exposing them to our region’s business community whenever we can, because when we do, these fine young minds realize that they don’t have to move to a seven-figure population base to have a cool job.
Marty Green, an economics teacher at East Peoria Community High School (EPCHS), shares but one example: “The East Peoria 2010 project has had a tremendous impact on how and what I teach in my government and economics classes. The key to our success at EPCHS is to make our curriculum relevant, and this project fits the bill.
“My students first became aware of the project when Gary Densberger, a former EPCHS graduate, parent and city councilman, came to my government class to discuss East Peoria’s unique form of government. Densberger gave a great history lesson on East Peoria and explained our form of government. In his discussions, he updated students on projects that the city was undertaking in the near-future, including East Peoria/Downtown 2010 (eastpeoria2010.com).
“His timing could not have been more perfect. East Peoria Community High School has had a long and successful relationship with Junior Achievement. JA provides us with all of our materials to teach economics. Their program is nationally recognized and we are lucky to be a part of it.
“Densberger’s presentation on East Peoria 2010 took all the economic theory and brought it to life for my students. It is very rare that students are exposed to a development of this magnitude from the beginning and can understand how this will impact their lives. Densberger explained infrastructure, TIFs, property taxes and the effect this project will have on our local economy.”
EPCHS students Cody Benway and Tim Brown, who heard Densberger speak, commented, “Before Mr. Densberger visited our class, we were unaware of the changes that are to take place in 2010. Mr. Densberger showed us how the material we learned in class is applied in the outside world. He explained how economics affects us daily in how we live our lives.”
Green continues, “What makes the situation more fortuitous for EPCHS is that Brian Buralli of Cullinan Properties acts as our JA Classroom Consultant (in-class volunteer), visiting us frequently to allow my students to put theory into practice. Buralli is responsible for our students’ involvement with Rock n’ Roll Up Your Sleeve for the American Red Cross, an annual blood drive that is the brainchild of EPCHS students. That event was spawned through the Junior Achievement mindset that has students learning by doing.
“Teaching economics to tenth graders is a challenge. However, when resources such as Junior Achievement, Cullinan Properties, Brian Buralli and Gary Densberger are available, students are inspired, and it all begins to make sense.” iBi