September 9, 2019- September is JABC’s Educator Appreciation Month and we salute Donna Parkinson, of Mount Douglas Secondary School in Victoria, B.C., for inspiring students and supporting JABC for almost 20 years!

When did you get involved with JABC?

I have been involved with JABC since 2000, when programming began in Victoria, and I have been offering programs every year since then.  I offer three to four JA programs each semester, so that is as many as eight per year.  My students have worked with wonderful volunteers, each of which have been excited to share the fascinating world of business with them.  We have been very fortunate to have had volunteers who are so dedicated to helping our youth.

What enticed you to enroll your first class with JABC?

I am a firm believer in offering as much “real life” education as possible into our B.C. High school business curriculum. Exposing our young people to business and financial literacy is very important and JA has wonderful programs that do just that. They are short introductory programs that introduce students to the world of finance be it through Investment Strategies Program, Titan, Be Entrepreneurial or any of the other programs JA has to offer.

What inspires you to stay involved with the organization?  

I stay involved with the organization because I see the students make connections between theory and real practical application. I stay involved because of the enthusiasm and energy the students exhibit through the programs. I stay involved because I feel some of the most important lessons that a high school business student learns can be taught with the support of the JA programs and the JA people (staff and volunteers). I stay involved because JA believes in the importance of financial/business literacy and so do I. Our business students have a positive experience with JA. I am a fan of JA!

Do you have an anecdote about a student who was (or students who were) changed after taking a JABC program?

I believe all of the students change to some degree after taking a JA program.  Over the years we have had students give back by volunteering to help with JA sponsored events.  We have even had five of our former students volunteer in adulthood to mentor JA programs. This is very exciting and rewarding.  I feel that the former JA participants believe that they gained “value” from participating in a JA program and now they want to offer the same “value” to the new students.  We have had five of our Mount Douglas  students over the years earn their way to the Next Generation Leaders Forum ( JA Youth Success Summit) and all of them have returned to B.C. with the same exuberance and expression…”Life Changing!”.  This excitement flows back and forth and it keeps me committed to offering JA programs.

What would you tell a fellow educator who is thinking about enrolling with JABC?

I always encourage educators to get involved with JA programs. I believe that the teacher, not just the students, can learn from the mentors.  As they learn, they gain more knowledge and confidence with the material and then they can share even more with their students.  There are always opportunities for teachable moments of life lessons within the JA lessons. For example, during the Investment Strategies Program, we discuss investment from a financial perspective but we always further discuss the term investment from a larger perspective.  “Invest in yourself. It is the best investment you can ever make,” starts a discussion on investing in your financial literacy, your education, your relationships, your physical and mental well-being, etc. The lessons within the lessons can be very enlightening for the students.  The JA programs are very interesting and the teachers can be, and I believe should be, very hands on and involved in the JA program lessons. Welcome your mentor and embrace the opportunity of offering JA in the classroom and encourage full student participation. “If everyone in the room is prepared and excited about the program…… learning is sure to take place!”

Do you have a message to share?

This is my 40th year of being a high school business teacher and I absolutely love what I do!  Being a part of the JA family for the past 20 years has been my absolute pleasure and I encourage all B.C. business teachers to get involved with this incredible organization.  There is so much positive energy in JA. Get involved and you will be hooked!

Here are some comments and kudos from Donna’s former students:

“Donna Parkinson has inspired countless students such as myself to pursue business education. Her classroom takes a hands-on approach to learning, which is not only a more effective way of learning, but it is also significantly more interesting than staring at a textbook. From creating, designing, marketing and selling a clothing brand to the competitive JA Stock Market Simulation, Donna’s classroom is by far the most engaging that I have ever been in. Furthermore, Donna is deeply respected within the community, and has been able to bring in some of the most intelligent minds to her classroom to work with, and inspire students. The first internship I ever received was through a guest speaker I met in Donna’s classroom, and to this day, I still work in the same industry and love it.” -Naz K.

“Inspirational, enlightening, and insightful—these qualities of Ms. Donna Parkinson’s engaging business classes illuminate her passion for enriching the lives of her students and empowering them with a deeper understanding of the world of business. During my time as a Mount Douglas Secondary School student enrolled in Ms. P’s classes of Marketing 11 and Entrepreneurship 12, I already felt the impact of her enthusiasm and dedication to teaching business. Her lessons, rich with both the practicalities of the business world and its imaginative potentials, were so engaging in part due to the integration of multiple Junior Achievement British Columbia programs such as Be Entrepreneurial, Investment Strategies Program, and Titan. The volunteer coordinators of these JABC programs brought valuable perspectives to our classroom, helping Ms. Parkinson inspire us in pursuing our own school-wide business endeavour. Now as a current student enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s Bachelor of International Economics Program, I am so grateful for Ms. Parkinson’s inspirational teaching and reflect on how her lessons, along with the JABC programs she offered in her classes, created such a positive impact in both my life and the lives of her students.” -Rachel L.

“Her longstanding partnership and dedication to JABC provided my peers and I with invaluable exposure to start-up venture simulations, real business professionals, and practical investment experience. Many of these exercises were duplicated during my business degree at the University of Victoria, which is a testament to the legitimacy of both Donna’s teaching ability and the Junior Achievement programs. In my experience, this unique classroom culture enabled learning that went beyond what was listed on the curriculum. It still resonates with me how Donna would encourage my peers and I to invest in ourselves beyond all else, through education, relationships, and mental well-being. The valuable lessons she shared helped set the trajectory for my post-secondary life. She is a special type of leader who has affected many people in her career, and I am forever grateful to have been one of them.” -Tom S. (Pictured with Donna)

Thank you Donna Parkinson for helping youth find their path to success!