To implement Junior Achievement (JA) programs, educators and JA staff are successful when they combine their shared excitement for real-world learning. Principal Ryan Stadler from Campbell Elementary School in Jefferson County is driven to equip young people with applicable skills for 21st century workplace and global economy, so he partners with JA to provide authentic learning experiences for students. JA provides the structure to bring Stadler’s vision to fruition.
Stadler has taken on a wide range of roles in schools, including assistant principal, technology instructor, athletic director, and traditional classroom teacher. However, teaching wasn’t a part of Stadler’s original career plan. He became a long-term substitute teacher at Jefferson Academy Elementary School after college while looking for a permanent career in sports marketing, but the experience sparked his unexpected interest in the education field. After that year he continued teaching at Jefferson Academy and was asked to become the first principal at a startup charter school in Commerce City a few years later. Now he works as the principal at Campbell Elementary, which he loves because of the tight-knit community.
“What drew me to Campbell specifically was that it’s a small neighborhood school,” Stadler says. “The families and the community are really passionately involved and really have a lot of faith in the school. You get to know all the students, and you get to know most families and parents. It’s a very connected community, and Campbell Elementary is our home.”
JA strives to make communities stronger by educating the next generation, ultimately supporting the community members who will benefit from a strong and innovative future workforce.
Without JA, many students from Campbell Elementary might have limited access to this type of education, but donors and supporters give JA the unique ability to offer classroom programs to schools and students free of charge.
“Some similar programs can be expensive,” says Stadler. “JA provides students in our socioeconomic area with the same exact wonderful experience as other schools that might have a little more financial availability.”
Stadler also shares JA’s value for empowered networks of support. He also collaborates with JA to support his colleagues so they can fulfill education requirements in a fresh way.
“The JA lessons and programs are closely aligned with the content that Jefferson County Public Schools has selected as essential through their social studies and sciences, which teachers are expected to cover. But it’s provided in a different way than the traditional direct instruction of a classroom.”
Stadler says, “Our teachers were on board because JA met their needs. They sang its praises.”
“It’s not just about engaging in financial literacy; it’s about engaging in learning in a way that brings real-world application.”