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Heber School students determined to succeed


June 09, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

Martha Sanchez's students are determined to succeed.

Her eighth-grade class at Heber School participated in the Junior Achievement program this year for the first time, after Sanchez heard about it from Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program school to career coordinator Deborah Harrold.

"Junior Achievement is a non-profit organization dedicated to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives," said employer-volunteer Marcela Piedra.

Piedra, an adviser for the Small Business Development Center, volunteered to teach a series of activities to Sanchez's students, encouraging the students to continue in their education and showing the youths various career choices available.


"The program teaches them the benefits education has to lives," said Piedra.

She is the first employer-volunteer to complete the program with a class and was recently recognized by the organization with an "outstanding middle school consultant" award.

"For me it was a really neat and rewarding experience," she said.

"The curriculum is already established for you … everything's all laid out for you. They give you all the materials based on the grade level you teach," said Piedra.

One lesson she taught was to analyze different salaries for different jobs and develop a budget based on various salaries.

It was a lesson students said helped them.

"I learned how to work with budgets and learned the requirements about different jobs," said Abraham Rodriguez, 14.

Piedra said, "I wish more schools were participating in it, but I wish more that more employers were participating in it.

"We're really reinforcing what's being taught in the classroom and that's helpful to the teachers," added Piedra.

For her last session with Sanchez's class, Piedra invited the students to the SBDC in El Centro, where they listened to presentations from Rick Macken, chief deputy coroner, Bob Sellers, special FBI agent, and Ben Solomon, director of the SBDC.

"It helped me to know how to get the job and the education I had to get and what I'd have to do if I got the job," said Ricardo Pasillas, 14, of the coroner's presentation.

Ricardo, who wants to be a coroner, said he found the presentation enlightening.

"I was surprised you only had to complete high school. I thought you had to go to college and become a doctor," said Ricardo of the requirements to become a coroner.

"It's a really good program because I got to learn a lot of stuff," said Rachel Ruiz, 14, of the Junior Achievement program.

"It's a good way to learn how to be a success in life and gave us important information on how to achieve our goals," said Rachel, who has decided she wants to be either a pediatrician or an oceanographer.

She added, "At first I didn't think college was important, but I realized (through Junior Achievement) I really need a job to make it in life."

Sanchez, in her first year of teaching, said the program has been a success in her class.

"Through the program they have become more aware, more empowered and responsible for their education," said Sanchez.

"This program has really helped them to see that they are responsible and that they can succeed," she added.

"I think we've reached the goal I set for them. I wanted them to see there's more out there, that they could go on to a higher education and not just a bachelor's degree. I wanted them to see that it is possible," Sanchez said.

Michael Aguilar, 14, said, he feels "very fortunate" to have participated in Junior Achievement.

"The best part of Junior Achievement is I got to learn the importance of a good education and how it affects your life," he said.

Michael added, "I hope (the Junior Achievement program) spreads out so other classes have the opportunity we did."

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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