Economy provides lessons

DeWayne Bartels
Angie McNaught serves as the program manager for Junior Achievement in Peoria Heights, finding business volunteers to work with students from kindergarten to high school in an 11-county area.

   The nature of economic news has little impact on Angie McNaught’s approach to her work.

For McNaught, whether the economy is good, lukewarm or bad, her work in business education and the lessons go on. She serves as the program manager for Junior Achievement in Peoria Heights, finding business volunteers to work with students from kindergarten to high school in an 11-county area.

“Our mission is to inspire and prepare today’s young people to succeed in today’s global economy,” McNaught said.

She said a downturn in the economy does not impact the basic nature of the program, just the lessons offered.

“All the JA programs go back to our three pillars: financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness,” McNaught said.

JA today is a far cry from its past nature. Today, the focus is on meeting in classrooms during school hours.

“In today’s economy, JA is needed more than ever. Financial literacy is critical,” McNaught said.

“A lot of people assume kids are learning these lessons at school or home. That’s not a valid assumption anymore.”

McNaught said North Peoria students, even in grades below high school, are aware they need skills to succeed in a global economy and that the world is a tough place.

“The fifth graders at Banner School get it. Our kids are smart,” McNaught said.

“But, they have to have the motivation to understand there is a connection between school and what goes on in the world. We are teaching them the nuts and bolts of business and personal responsibility. We have to prepare and inspire.”

In a down economy the job does not get harder, McNaught said.

“Kids are optimistic. We’re teaching them skills to succeed no matter what the economy is,” McNaught said.