Each year, Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. (JA) formally recognizes outstanding JA champions who embrace the JA mission and go above and beyond to make JA a positive and powerful experience for students. The JA Volunteer of the Year and JA Educator of the Year were nominated by community members who recognized their excellence. Additionally, hand-selected by JA staff, the JA Advocate of the Year is honored for their extraordinary breadth of advocacy activities for JA, from dedicating years of volunteer service to a variety of JA programs, to single-handedly recruiting others to volunteer for JA, to fundraising on behalf of JA, and to promoting JA’s mission in the community. Read more about this year’s award recipients:
JA Educator of the Year: Hilary Wimmer
Hilary began working as the Recruitment Representative for Adams 12 Five Star Schools in 1999, and on one of her recruiting trips, her current principal told her she would make a great teacher. She took her colleague’s advice to heart and started teaching business at Northglenn High School a few years later. Hilary moved to her current role at Mountain Range High School in 2006 where her business program has grown into one of the largest in Colorado.
“My goal is to instill the concept of connecting with the local community,” she says. Hilary prioritizes real-world learning experiences to prepare students for their future careers. She continues, “I have found that the best partner I have in education in Junior Achievement. I constantly work with JA to help bring relevant, volunteer-led programs into my classroom.”Students in Hilary’s classes have participated in the JA Job Shadows program, JA Business Week, JA Stock Market Challenge, Denver Start Up Week, and more during her 12 years as a JA partner. She was nominated for JA Educator of the Year largely because her peers recognize her passion for applicable, experiential learning methods, which she implements in large part through JA.
JA Volunteer of the Year: Charles Knezevich
Since he began volunteering with JA in 2012, Charles has been one of JA’s greatest assets. Though he lives in Erie, JA Education Manager Marla Zuch says that he is “willing to travel all around the Denver Metro and surrounding areas to deliver JA curricula in any grade.” Charles believes in the value of teaching JA in a wide variety of neighborhoods, with different teachers and students, and recommends this to other volunteers as well.
Teachers look forward to having Charles in their classrooms year after year because of his preparedness and willingness to go the extra mile. He’s also admired by students and JA staff because he delivers the content with excellence and fun.
JA Advocate of the Year: Nick Niehaus
Encouraging others to be financially fit is one of Nick’s goals as a businessperson and JA volunteer. Over ten years ago, Nick connected with JA through a friend and brought the JA Corporate Stock Market Challenge to Charles Schwab.
He says, “The more I learned about JA’s efforts to prepare young people for financial success the more I thought I could be, and should be, involved.”
Nick is constantly expanding his advocacy for JA, from coordinating employees for JA Bowl-A-Thon and JA Stock Market Challenge, to volunteering in classrooms himself. He instilled an attitude of enthusiasm for JA’s mission throughout his tenure at Charles Schwab and will surely maintain the same type of momentum in his new role at Fidelity.