JA Experience Inspires Volunteer to Become a Teacher

Posted in: JA Impact

Here’s a great story from one JA Arizona volunteer. We hope you’re as moved as we are! J.W. Gaberdiel, a local high school mathematics teacher, was inspired to pursue teaching after volunteering with Junior Achievement in the classroom:

“After managing a Borders bookstore for five years, I transitioned into managing a Sylvan Learning Center. At Sylvan, I was performing three roles: tutoring students, contacting teachers for insight into student struggles, and meeting with parents to discuss progress.

“At some point I realized that instead of playing middle-man between my students/parents and a third-party teacher, I might be more effective at helping students (and enjoy my work more) if I simply were the teacher! However, while I thought tutoring a handful of students at a time was simple, I didn’t think I could handle managing a classroom full of 30 students, so I didn’t seriously consider becoming a teacher…. until I heard about Junior Achievement.

“One of my friends kept pushing me to be a volunteer—an effort I resisted as long as possible! Ultimately, I agreed to volunteer to teach a seven-week program to a local high school. At first, the thought of teaching a classroom of students was overwhelmingly nerve wracking, but by the end of my program I realized that I could do it!  I could teach and manage student behavior, simultaneously!

“Within months I had applied to various teaching posts and obtained a full-time position teaching mathematics at a charter high school. I am now in my sixth year of teaching high school, second year of teaching at a community college, and have also enjoyed two years of teaching nights at an online high school. Not only do I love my teaching career, and can’t imagine doing anything else, I have even had the opportunity to create a JA Personal Finance® course at my high school, a course that previously did not exist at this small charter school. Obviously I have also arranged to have Junior Achievement volunteers to come in to my classroom, and I even took my students to JA Finance Park®. In more ways than one, I am deeply grateful to Junior Achievement for the many opportunities they have helped me find in my life.”