Townsend Harris Student Is JA Essay Contest Runner-Up
Kristina Yao, a student at Townsend Harris H.S. in Flushing was a runner-up in the 2009 Junior Achievement of New York (JANY) High School Heroes Essay Contest. The competition asked high school students who taught the JANY curriculum to elementary school students in their neighborhoods this year to answer the following: "Discuss your favorite moment(s) of your High School Heroes experience. How will your experience as a High School Hero impact your future?"
Yao will receive a cash prize for the competition, which focused on what students learned from the High School Heroes Program, a program that sends high school students back to elementary school to teach basic financial literacy and economic education to their younger peers. Yao's essay focused on how it felt to step into the role of a third-grade teacher and stand at the head of a classroom.
"To think that the younger generation saw me as a mentor and role model was one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced," she wrote. "I actually had an influence on the students and taught them something valuable. That isn't a little thing. To change and make an impact on the future, not only do you say that you'll do it, but you also have to take action!"
Rachel Resnik, a recent graduate of Bronx H.S. of Science, took first place honors in the JANY essay contest. Resnik's response focused on her experience teaching special needs elementary students at K-Maroon, a class affiliated with Bronx Science. She wrote that as a special needs student herself, she was able to relate to these younger students, and understood that sometimes teaching students with learning disabilities requires lessons to move "outside of the box". She exemplifies the fact that if students work hard and focus their efforts, nothing, not even learning disabilities, can stop them from achieving their full academic potential.
"K-Maroon has inspired me to want to explore different teaching methods for myself, as well as for the children in the tutoring business that I run teaching special needs students language arts skills," Resnik wrote. "They have made me realize that it is important to keep the fun in education alive, so that younger children have the motivation to not give up when they struggle with the obstacles in their way." She receives a $250 cash prize for winning the competition.
Jessica Salama, also of Bronx H.S. of Science, with Yao garnered honorable mention for her essay. Each received a $150 cash prize. Both students will be seniors at their respective high schools in the fall.
"The essay contest winners are outstanding high school students who've demonstrated tremendous personal growth during their time in the High School Heroes Program," Junior Achievement of New York President Doug Schallau said. "These local 'heroes' are role models in the community. By volunteering to deliver Junior Achievement curriculum to elementary students, they exemplify the importance of staying in school and contributing positively to the growth of their communities. We're pleased to honor them for their commitment to this program and to help them further their education."
The JANY High School Heroes Program was initiated in spring 2000 to give outer boroughs and Long Island elementary students access to the Junior Achievement curriculum. High school students volunteer to spend a day teaching JA Worldwide programs to students in elementary grades. High School Hero events can run for a single day or for several sessions over a few weeks. The program is designed to provide a service learning leadership experience for the high school students and is a source of motivation and an economic education opportunity for elementary students.
For 80 years, Junior Achievement of New York has delivered economic empowerment programs to New York City and Long Island students. Founded in 1929, Junior Achievement of New York, Inc. (JANY) is the New York affiliate of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world's largest and fastest growing organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.
Through a dedicated volunteer network, JANY provides in-school and afterschool programs for 95,000 New York City and Long Island students annually, in grades K-12. JANY's educational programs focus on three key content areas: Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Readiness, which it defines as the Three Pillars of Student Success. JANY's in-school and after-school programs serve students in the New York City and Long Island geographic areas. Today, Junior Achievement Worldwide reaches approximately 9 million students globally. For more information about JANY and its programs, visit www.jany.org.