Honoring JA San Diego Volunteer of the Year, Bill Sears

JA is delighted to recognize Bill Sears as “JA San Diego Volunteer of the Year” for South County.  The former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot has volunteered at nearly every JA Day in South County during the 2016- 2017 school year. The active Bonita Kiwanis member is always the first to ask, “When is the next JA Day?” and “How can I help?” With Bill’s support and dedication, JA reached a record-breaking 80,344 students this year.  To celebrate the successful school year, we asked Bill to share his passion in the below Q&A segment:

How long have you been a JA volunteer?

Gosh, I'm not really sure. Chayo Moreno sold me in a Kiwanis Club presentation maybe 5-6 years ago. She got me in a classroom and I've been loving it ever since.

What do you find most rewarding about your role as a JA volunteer?  

From making doughnuts in 2nd grade to building a city in 3rd, and creating your own business in 4th grade, I love the interaction with the kids. I can hit a spark with them during my class introduction.  I have the students use name tags with "what they want to be called" - not necessarily by their real names.  The result is fun names, such as,  "Popcorn Girl," "Soccer Man," and "Pretty Princess."   The kids giggle when I call them those names. It builds enthusiasm in the classroom.

I also really enjoy teaching students that participated in JA the previous school year.  I ask students what previous lessons they learned and build upon that momentum and excitement.  In addition, I have developed a great respect for the teachers that work with these kids. You can really tell that their heart is in that classroom. 

What was a particularly rewarding lesson you have taught as a JA Volunteer?

I like the lesson in second grade where they all get paid five one dollar bills for their work to make doughnuts.   I pay each student except those that work for the government to include our class teachers, police, firemen, etc.  This is when I get the occasional tears. Then I explain that these workers are funded and paid by the government.  I ask the students, "Now, where does the government get money? The bank?"

I explain the government gets its money from taxes to provide our community with schools, streets, stop lights, teachers and other government workers. At this point, I put on my "Tax Collector" badge and with great reluctance from the  the working masses, I collect $2 dollars from each student. I explain that this money is the "government budget" and I pay all the government workers.

Then I ask, do government workers, like teachers, pay taxes? A resounding "YES"! So I then collect the $2 dollars from this group of students.

Each student ends up with three Junior Achievement dollars to take home and an understanding of why paying taxes is important. 

Please share your favorite JA story.

I was explaining the difference between "goods and services" in a fourth grade class.  I shared goods are where you buy something and physically take it with you. Services are where someone does something for you - a haircut, for example - and you pay for those services but don't take anything away. A girl raised her hand and said, "I think I understand. It's like when your mom goes to a hospital and a doctor examines her, and that's a service. Then she comes home with a new baby and that's a good!" 

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