We recently sent four Blend team members back to school. But not back to school in the typical sense — rather, we sent people out to Sioux Falls’ grade schools to teach work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills through Junior Achievement.
Junior Achievement (JA) is a nationwide program that works to inspire and prepare young people to succeed. But the students are not the only ones to benefit from the program.
“When I started, I saw it as a chance to teach important life skills, but I also thought it would be a great way to hone my own skills in public speaking,” says Production Director Jessica Hutchinson, who started volunteering for JA almost 10 years ago. “Honestly, though, seeing the kids regularly and experiencing their love and excitement made me stay. I have a whole different level of respect for educators.”
Jess was instrumental in getting three additional Blend employees engaged in the program that serves more than 51,000 students statewide, but beyond that it gave Blend a chance to stretch into our Core Beliefs: Passion. Progress. Integrity. Advocacy. And while we wrote our core values to focus on the work we do in-house, in truth, these values come home — and out into the community — with us.
Project Manager Stephanie Krumvieda taught a group of first-graders. “Before participating in JA I had not been in a public school since my childhood,” says Stephanie. “It’s interesting to walk through the school and see how things are set up. Now that I have a little one, I’m trying to learn more about the school system.”
At Blend, we believe that we have an obligation to work toward improvement in all areas. To work toward progress at all times. As a matter of fact, we believe it is our duty to share our knowledge with our industry as a whole.
We may do this through giving talks at our local chamber of commerce, organizing a web conference designed to help attendees take care of their websites or just sharing what it’s like to be a part of the local and global economy to a group of students at the elementary school down the street. Regardless, we appreciated getting to bring our skills into the classroom — and, at the end of the day, the volunteers learned a lot, too.
“More than anything I learned that simple things can mean a lot,” says Project Manager Laura Hieb, who taught second grade. “Every time I arrived to teach I felt so loved. The kids were really happy just to see a new face.”