The Tomah Health Community Foundation is helping area students learn what they would like to do when they grow up through a unique program that connects local residents and business leaders with local schools.
Foundation board members donated $1,500 to the Tomah Junior Achievement program Aug. 30. Junior Achievement Coulee Region education manager Melissa Gretebeck said the support from the foundation is important for students in the Tomah Area School District to help them learn about financial literacy along with career planning.
“It’s really an opportunity to fill the gap with opportunities that are not currently available in the schools and as support to the teachers,” Gretebeck said. “We know there are so many things that the teachers are having to do, so this is just an extra resource for them having a volunteer come into the classroom, do some additional teaching and be a support to them.”
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Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades kindergarten through high school about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.
Gretebeck said JA’s unique approach allows volunteers from the community to deliver the curriculum while sharing their experiences with students.
“JA is a great opportunity for parents, aunts and uncles or grandparents to be able to come into volunteer in their students’ classroom,” Gretebeck said. “We provide all the resources that they need — handouts and a guide. It’s very well laid out and a great opportunity, and volunteers are a huge contribution as well.”
She said Junior Achievement Coulee Region includes 15 school districts, including Tomah, and reaches about 4,600 students who take part in 200 JA programs.
Junior Achievement Tomah Co-op director Tanya Schindel said the donation will help restart the local program which had been postponed since 2018 due to COVID-19.
“The exciting part is that we are going to get it up and running; we’re hoping by the end of September at the very least the start of October,” Schindel said. She said their goal is to offer the program to about 10 classes in the Tomah School District with the option of teaching online.
Schindel said students put the lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities. “It’s really exciting to finally have it back.”
Foundation president Peter Reichart said Junior Achievement aligns with the mission of the foundation to support health and wellness programs that have a positive impact on children and families in the community.
“We all know the importance of good, strong education and how it plays into developing future community leaders and Junior Achievement really meets that need,” Reichardt said.
“Thanks so much to the Tomah Health Foundation for this very generous gift,” Gretebeck added. “It’s through funds like these that we are able to carry out our mission and to be able to provide this opportunity for students and teachers.”
Schindel said businesses interested in participating in the program with volunteers or financial support can contact her at CCF Bank in Tomah at 608-372-2126.
“This is going to be so fantastic for our kids,” Schindel said.
La Crosse Tribune reporter Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.