SDN Blog

SDN helps Junior Achievement teach real-life economics

Posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in Employees , Community

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Serving as a volunteer instructor for Junior Achievement of South Dakota is a rewarding and memorable experience for Nick Kortan.

“I always walk away from the ethics class discussions just amazed with the wide variety of responses you can get from a room of 15 kids,” says Kortan, vice president of corporate operations for SDN Communications in Sioux Falls.

Kortan volunteers annually to teach an ethics class to high school students who participate in Junior Achievement of South Dakota. He also spends a day teaching the JA curriculum to sixth-graders and serves on the Sioux Falls Area Board for the statewide organization.  Its mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.

Kortan is one of 15 SDN employees who serves as a volunteer instructor for Junior Achievement. Additional SDN employees participate in JA bowling and golfing fundraisers.

In addition to helping supply Junior Achievement with volunteer instructors, SDN supports the organization with an annual financial contribution.

The business-to-business broadband provider is among the companies that Junior Achievement can count on every year to provide qualified and enthusiastic instructors, says Kayla Eitreim, president of Junior Achievement of South Dakota.

“We’re just very grateful for the long-term relationship we’ve had with SDN,” Eitreim says. “We are very grateful to SDN and everything they do for our students.”

Junior Achievement is a Colorado-based nonprofit dedicated to providing economic education to young people in the United States and more than 100 other countries. The organization has been operating nationally since 1919 and in South Dakota since 1968.

JA programs are provided to schools at no cost. Funding comes from businesses, individuals, foundations, and fundraising events.

It presently serves nearly 49,000 elementary, middle school and high school students in South Dakota with the help of approximately 2,000 classroom volunteers.

Classes are offered in 29 South Dakota communities - a staff of about 10 people at the state office in Sioux Falls supports area boards across the state.

“We bring community volunteers into the classroom to help students understand work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship,” Eitreim says.

Junior Achievement provides the classroom curriculum to volunteer instructors. The instructors enhance the lessons by sharing personal and professional experiences with the students.

Volunteers help students make the connection between what they’re learning in school and what they’ll need to know to be successful in work and life. They explore topics such as the pros and cons of credit to the ups and downs of the stock market.

Kortan’s been teaching the middle school curriculum for four years and the ethics class to high schoolers for three. He spends a day a year teaching sixth-graders and a half-day a year teaching high school students.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching. It lets me combine what I do every day with interacting with kids,” says Kortan, who oversees and directs the financial, accounting and credit elements of SDN’s business.

CEO Mark Shlanta is among other JA volunteers from SDN.

Shlanta and other company leaders believe that being a great company starts with being a good citizen. It’s why SDN and its employees give back to their communities regularly through sponsorships, volunteerism and donations.

To learn more about SDN and its civic involvement, visit SDN’s Community webpage.

To learn more or get involved with the organization, email Junior Achievement of South Dakota or call (605) 336-7318.