Business Education Roundtable Convenes

Business/Education Roundtable Convenes
Posted on 01/19/2017
Logo Business Education Roundtable

Business/Education Roundtable Convenes
        SCPS to Begin Junior Achievement Program

Shenandoah County Public Schools and Lord Fairfax Community College Workforce Solutions hosted this school year’s first Business Education Roundtable on January 10, 2017, at Triplett Tech.   The Roundtable discussions, which began in the fall of 2014, provide an opportunity for local business/industry and education to partner for the benefit of both.  The Junior Achievement Program was the main topic on the agenda for the January meeting. 

Dr. Mark Johnston, SUperintendent

Dr. Mark  Johnston, Superintendent of Shenandoah County Public Schools, began the meeting with an overview of the school division that included a PowerPoint highlighting basic demographic information including enrollment and free/reduced lunch numbers over the last several years.  While enrollment numbers have slightly decreased, Dr. Johnston explained that county-wide, the decline has not been large enough to impact programs.  Dr. Johnston also presented information on the number of students who qualify for Free and/or Reduced Price Lunch. Students who come to us from poverty usually come with “impoverished skills” as well, said Dr. Johnston.  “And students who are experiencing trauma or worried about food or health care are not focused on learning.”    

Dr. Johnston also noted two major changes in education.  For many years a four-year college degree was suggested for almost all students.  Many of today’s students are successful with workforce credentials from high school or from a two-year or trade school. “Exposure to the world of work while students are in school is relevant,” said Dr. Johnston, and career planning and mentorships are a part of the Department of Education’s Profile of a Virginia Graduate. He summarized by noting that “we strive for all students to be college AND career ready and not having to make a choice for one or the other due to a lack of access to opportunity sometime in their school career.”  

Instructional Graphic


Several years ago, it was you, our business partners,” said Dr. Johnston, “who emphasized to us the importance of soft-skills such as being on timefor work every day and having the ability to work with others and to solve problems.”  SCPS has identified these and other skills as our Instructional Cornerstones: Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration,Problem Solving, and Persistence.  The Virginia Department of Education has recognized that to be successful in today’s world, a student needs more than passing test scores on academic content.  The Profile of a Virginia Graduate in draft form lists five attributes necessary for high school graduates to be life-ready:  critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship.  

On January 14, 2015, at a Business/Education Roundtable, Kip Brannon, semi-retired General Manager of Howell Metal, first proposed Junior Achievement (JA) as a way for schools to encourage entrepreneurship.  “How can we teach students to start their own businesses?” was the question he asked. Throughout the three years of the Roundtable’s existence there has been another persistent question:  How can leaders and employees of business and industry be more involved in the schools? ” Dr. Johnston invited Andrew Kirk, the Senior Education Manager for Junior Achievement of Central Virginia, to attend the January Roundtable discussion.  From his experience with Junior Achievement in another school division, Dr. Johnston recognized that Junior Achievement programs address both of these questions.  It was noted as well that Rich Walker, member of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, had shared his positive Junior Achievement experiences with Dr. Johnston when the two met earlier this school year.   

Kip Brannon and Andrew Kirk

Kip Brannon (left, Howell Metal) and Andrew Kirk (Junior Achievement) talk about Junior Achievement and the connections this non-profit organization offers between business/industry and schools.

Logo To explain the program, Mr. Kirk distributed Junior Achievement flyers to the group and also presented a PowerPoint.  Junior Achievement is a non-profit organization whose mission is “To inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.”  The program aims to give students both the skills and knowledge they will need for economic success.  There are three main areas of focus:   Entrepreneurship, Work Readiness, and Financial Literacy.  Junior Achievement offers hands-on programs for elementary, middle, and high school students ranging from classroom lessons related to economics to programs that use activities to challenge students to start their own business ventures. 

(For a list of JA programs, go to  https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/ja-programs )   

Although anyone can volunteer, Junior Achievement programs are often taught by leaders of business and industry or employees of a company or even volunteers who are student leaders.   Each volunteer teacher will bring his or her own life’s experiences and expertise to the classroom, making the lesson real world for the students.   All volunteers receive training from JA staff and will have a lesson plan and all of the resources for that plan provided, said Mr. Kirk.  A volunteer doesn’t have to have teaching experience.  In fact, Mr. Kirk added, “the classroom teacher must stay in the classroom during the lesson.”    

Roundtable business and industry members responded favorably to the presentation noting that the JA programs will provide a much-needed “framework” whether volunteers want to go into the schools to teach an economics lesson or establish a shadowing program at their company or do even more.  Junior Achievement will bring an underlying structure to already existing business and education career readiness experiences.  

Shenandoah County Public Schools is launching the Junior Achievement program on January 24, 2016, with JA in a Day training for volunteers.    The JA in a Day program is designed for a volunteer to teach all five JA elementary lessons for a particular grade during a single day. The lessons may also be distributed over several sessions.  Everyone who is interested in volunteering for the Junior Achievement program is welcome to attend the training which will be provided on all three campuses. It is anticipated that the JA in a Day will launch in a limited number of classrooms in April 2017. 


JA in a Day Training Schedule

January 24, 2017

Central High School Library:  9 AM - 10 AM

Strasburg High School Library:  11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Stonewall Jackson High School Library:  2 PM - 3 PM


March 22, 2017
County Board Room: 6-7PM 

The training is for one hour.

The lesson will be taught in April to the elementary classes
The lesson would take 45 minutes

Please direct questions about the JA training to Tracy Landes, Executive Secretary to the Superintendent, at 540-459-6702 or email Ms. Landes, tllandes@shenandoah.k12.va.us

Roundtable members often stay after the meeting to continue discussion of the topics.

Roundtable members

From left:  Andrew Kirk (Junior Achievement), Kip Brannon (Howell Metal),  Mike Dorman (Stonewall Jackson HS), Bill Pence (LFCC Workforce Solutions), and Dr. Johnston (Shenandoah County Public Schools)


Roundtable Dr. MJ & Katie F
Roundtable members:   Dr. Mark Johnston and Katheryn Freakley, School Board member and representative to the Business/Education Roundtable from Regulus Group

Roundtable members

Roundtable Members from left: Bobby Grubbs (Grubbs Chevrolet),  Dawn Funkhouser (President of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce),  Mike Ashley (Owner and Sr. Investigator of Commonwealth Investigations Services) and Karl Roulston (Partner/Co-Founder of Regulus Group)


Roundtable logo



Dr. Johnston