Jessica Anne Lodding works with Haywood County school children.
Jessica Anne Lodding of High Point works with children in Haywood County's Hazelwood Elementary School.

CULLOWHEE – Five Western Carolina University students found out what it's like to be on the teaching end of the educational spectrum this fall as they taught basic economic principles to students at Haywood County's Hazelwood Elementary School through the Junior Achievement program.

The Western student-volunteers visited Hazelwood Elementary once each week to teach fifth-graders the basics of the free-enterprise system.

“The Junior Achievement curricula used is titled ‘Our Nation' and examines how businesses operate in the United States,” said Meredith Stone-Switzer, program manager for Junior Achievement of Western North Carolina. “The younger students get an opportunity to role-play business ownership and job interviews, and learn different methods of production while exploring various economic issues that impact businesses.”

The program correlates with lessons that are taught in the fifth-grade social studies curriculum in North Carolina public schools, Stone-Switzer said.

The Western students began their teaching duties at Hazelwood Elementary in October, and their volunteer efforts are coming to a conclusion with the end of the fall semester.

The Western student-volunteers are Pamela Kay Mulwee and Judy Kimberly Nguyen, both of Gastonia, Casey Le-Ann Black of Cameron, Jessica Anne Lodding of High Point and Drew Thomas Lancaster of Duluth, Ga. Mulwee, Nguyen, Black and Lodding have been enrolled this fall in an “Introductory Microeconomics” class taught by James Murphy , assistant professor in Western's department of business computer information systems and economics, and received extra credit in the class for participating in the Junior Achievement program.

Sophomores Mulwee and Nguyen co-taught the same class at Hazelwood Elementary. Nguyen, a 2003 graduate of Forestview High School and business major at Western, described her work with the Hazelwood students as a “wonderful learning experience.” Mulwee, a 2003 graduate of Ashbrook High School who is a hospitality and tourism major, said the program “was not only a learning experience for the children we taught, but for us volunteers, as well.”

Black is a freshman at Western majoring in secondary social sciences education. She graduated from Union Pines High School earlier this year. “Through Junior Achievement, not only have the children learned economic principles, I have learned about the children,” she said.

Lodding, a 2001 graduate of Bishop McGuinness High School, is a senior at Western majoring in hospitality and tourism. “I think it's important to teach kids about business and economic issues at a young age,” she said. “The kids seemed to really enjoy the program and I'm amazed at how much they already know.”

Lodding has been assisted in her teaching by Lancaster, a junior majoring in social sciences who graduated from Duluth ( Ga. ) High School in 2001. “I'm going into teaching when I graduate from Western, so the experience I gained from the program is going to be really helpful,” he said.

Five other Western students – Megan Chamblee, Nick Rulon, Beth Kenyon, Jared Mabry and Meredith Silas – participated in the Junior Achievement program during the 2003-04 academic year and taught economics at Waynesville Middle School .

Junior Achievement is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by corporate and individual contributors. It is the world's largest organization dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise.

Junior Achievement programs are taught by volunteers in class and after school at locations throughout the United States and in 97 countries. Programs are offered to children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

For more information about Junior Achievement of Western North Carolina, contact Meredith Stone-Switzer at (828) 252-5842. For information about Western's involvement with Junior Achievement, contact James Murphy at (828) 227-3731.

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Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2004
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