JA/Harris Partnership Story

Imagine being able to obtain a one-day crash course in business – while you are still in elementary school.

That is what students at Westside Elementary School in Palm Bay have been able to do for the past seven years thanks to a special program supported by Harris Corporation and Junior Achievement of the Space Coast (JASC).

Harris, JASC and Westside have teamed up to offer students JA-in-a-Day, a program where students get a full JA lesson – normally spread out over six or seven weeks – during one school day. The students are immersed in hands-on JA programs that introduce them to financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness. 

JA is the oldest, largest and fastest-growing program of its kind and reaches students in grades K-12 around the world. Lessons are delivered by individual volunteers who are equipping students for a lifetime of success.

The seven-year run at Westside has produced some notable numbers. A total of 201 volunteers have taught programs, logging 2,800 hours over that time span. The most impressive statistic – 4,032 students reached so far. 

“My students always enjoy JA-in-a-Day as it’s an exciting and engaging break from routine,” teacher Bill Correllus said. “The Harris facilitators are always professional, knowledgeable and entertaining. I enjoy the JA-in-a-Day program as much as my students because it’s a well-thought-out program that keeps my students engaged, thinking and learning about skills that they need to succeed in life.”

“We enjoy Junior Achievement because it helps us understand the economy and how to manage our money in the future,” one student said. “We also love the activities we get to participate in!”

Pulling off that level of engagement takes a strong team of volunteers who dedicate time to train, prepare and teach the lessons.

“It’s really natural for Harris to be directly involved in this great organization,” said Rick Simonian, a Harris vice president and longtime JASC volunteer. “Our role in business and the community positions us well to help spread the word of economic literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship.”

Simonian should know – he has been a board member for JA of the Space Coast for more than 12 years and is this year’s chairman. He is also part of a core group that has volunteered at Westside since year one, organized by Harris’ Renee Hughes and JA’s Candice Hodge.

Harris has sponsored JASC for more than 30 years, with donations from the Harris Foundation augmented by matching funds on employee donations. This is important, since JA does not take funding from government sources.

Some Harris employees also have their own personal connection with JASC. Harris employee and current JA Board member Steve Audino was a student in Brevard County and was involved in the JA program in 1987 when he was selected to introduce former Harris CEO Joe Boyd as the first Laureate of JASC. The organization’s Business Hall of Fame includes a long list of former Harris leaders – Homer Denius, Jack Hartley, Phil Farmer, Nick Heldreth and Howard Lance – as well as current chairman, president and CEO Bill Brown.

“The Harris-JA-Westside connection demonstrates what’s possible when our amazing community comes together,” JASC President Anne Conroy-Baiter said. “For seven years, these kids have soaked up JA lessons. Younger students learn about wants and needs, jobs they can do in their home and how money works. In contrast, the sixth graders will be learning about free- trade agreements, workforce challenges and free markets. It’s so relevant, and we truly appreciate what Harris has done to support so many students.”

I enjoy the JA-in-a-Day program as much as my students because it’s a well-thought-out program that keeps my students engaged, thinking and learning about skills that they need to succeed in life.” – Bill Correllus

For more information on JASC visit www.jaspacecoast.org 

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SpaceCoast Business

SpaceCoast Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Brevard business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders, along with economic trends that are shaping our county.

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