JA Transforms High School Students into Heroes

A member of the Hueytown High School (HHS) football team recently became a star--off the football field. A few months ago John Smith had the opportunity to represent his team, his school and Junior Achievement, through a service learning project with a local elementary school. Jennifer Hatchett, director of marketing for Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham, shared John?s story.John was among 22 students who volunteered to teach JA to a kindergarten class as part of the class?s service learning project. He arrived professionally dressed to the kindergarten classroom, but told his teacher the clothes made him feel uncomfortable, like he had to be a different person than his "normal self."? He also expressed nervousness and uncertainty about entering the classroom. ?John quickly became the favorite among the 5- and 6-year-old children he taught, interacting in a fun and engaging manner. The young students were in awe that John was a football player, and loved that this "tough guy" was not only funny, but treated them with care and kindness.At the end of the day, when John?announced to the class that it was time for him to leave, the kindergarteners?swarmed him for hugs.?One little boy?s heart was so broken at the thought of John leaving, that he dissolved into tears. The little voices begged him not to leave, but if he had to, to be sure and return soon.The high school students had a celebratory lunch immediately following their day of volunteering in the classrooms. John asked if he could say a blessing and in the middle of a busy Mexican restaurant, 22 high school students put down their forks, bowed their heads and listened as John expressed how blessed the day had made him and his classmates feel.John?s teacher said that he exceeded expectations in an inspiring way and none of it would have happened without JA?s programs, people and support. "I do not know the talent level of John on the football field, but today, he was hands down MVP," John?s teacher concluded.

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