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Teacher Deems JA Experience Rewarding, Impactful

Photo: Phil Lehn, Chair, JA British Columbia presents Lee Nipp with the 2015 JABC Outstanding Teacher Award

May 12, 2016

When Lee Nipp signed up his business class students for Junior Achievement (JA) for the first time in 2008, he had no idea how transformational the experience would be, both for him and his students. Several years later, the 2015 JABC Outstanding Teacher Award recipient is still running JA’s entrepreneurship programs for his business students at Britannia Secondary Community School, and he credits JA for helping his students decide to pursue careers in the field.

“Quite often, students who have partaken in a JA program will remark how much they have learned about business and many will say that JA was the main reason for deciding upon business as a career path,” says Nipp.

His most memorable year was the one where his class won the JA Student Company of the Year for the first time and the CEO, Lisa Wong, took home the JA Excellence in Leadership Scholarship. The class sold T-shirts through their company, B.East Apparel, which reflected the team members’ pride in their East Vancouver roots. Nipp claims the experience was life-changing for many of the students. In addition to reinforcing their pride in their East Side roots, most went on to pursue business in post-secondary education. In fact, B.East Apparel’s CEO recently graduated from the UBC Sauder School of Business and is now working in human resources at Vancouver-based Vision Critical which provides companies with a cloud-based customer intelligence platform.

More recently, Nipp had a class which struggled to come up with a product to sell. They settled on tea but their business consultants, volunteer mentors from the business community, challenged them to pick something that would be more popular with their target market. Discouraged and running out of time, the students conducted market research for another idea—succulent plants grown in old wine bottle corks that were either mounted onto a magnet or stood freely. Corkulent was born, featuring a product with low manufacturing costs yielding high returns. The company marketed the sustainable plants to their peers, which quickly became popular accessories for school lockers and managed to sell out their entire stock of 1,000 plants.

“The kids learned a big lesson here, that market research can provide you so much information about potential sales,” says Nipp.

When asked about why he continues to invite JA into his classroom every year, Nipp says, “I incorporate JA programs into my teaching because they reinforce curriculum content. Having volunteers from the business community provide their real-life experiences is an added bonus, as students see validity in what is taught in our school’s business education courses.”

A study commissioned by JA Canada by the Boston Consulting Group on the effectiveness of JA programs shows that Achievers are 50% more likely to open their own business leading to innovation, new jobs, and wealth creation. In addition, over 75% of Achievers say JA was a critical driver of their work success.

“The students that have gone through a JA program are more confident in their abilities, more willing to challenge themselves, seek leadership positions while enrolled in post-secondary courses, and tend to set higher goals for themselves in the future,” says Nipp. “They seem to understand that getting out of their comfort zone and being challenged is part of the process for succeeding in business. They learn how to make informed decisions and think outside the box.”

Nipp has also gained a lot of insight from working with JA. He shared that JA has helped him understand what benefits his students the most. Experience is a more effective teacher when compared to reading a textbook, and JA’s entrepreneurship programs make learning and teaching fun, interesting and engaging.

“For me, this is definitely the most rewarding part of teaching,” says Nipp. “My teaching colleagues tell me how impressed they are with Britannia’s business education program, and I know a large part of that is because of what JA offers.”