Embry-Riddle Business Students Teach - and Learn - in Elementary School Classrooms

A group of elementar school children with their hands raised, sitting at desks in a classroom.
Business students from Embry Riddle recently led classes at Volusia County elementary schools, teaching children the basics of financial literary and career planning.
Jackson Radzimski, a junior in Aviation Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, never thought of himself as “a kid person,” but he says his recent experience of volunteering to teach life skills in underserved elementary schools affected him deeply.

“Whenever I would wrap up my lesson for the day and get in the car back to Embry-Riddle, I would sit and process how being at the school that day made me feel,” Radzimski said. “I found that every week, the net positives of the experience would grow exponentially.”

Radzimski’s experience came about through his enrollment in a class taught by Dr. Jennifer Hinebaugh, associate professor and undergraduate program coordinator in the David B. O’Maley College of Business, who collaborated with Junior Achievement and its effort to teach young students the basics of financial literacy and academic and career planning.

Four young adults standing at the front of a classroom.
Embry-Riddle students (left to right) Joeseph Fadgen, Kanyika Mswia, Yujia Zheng and Mehgan Fuchs volunteered in a Daytona Beach, Florida, elementary school. (Photo: Jennifer Hinebaugh)
Radzimski said that when he and a few of his peers first visited a classroom, it was “rowdy and chaotic.” But once the program was underway, “the kids were all super excited to see us, learn and share stories.”

“The experience has most definitely had a lasting impact on me. One little girl talked about getting money from ‘strangers putting money in my dad’s hat,’ and many others were amazed seeing an iPhone for the first time,” Radzimski said. “The mix of innocence and poverty I saw humbled me a lot, and it taught me so much about being grateful for everything.”

Sophia Fleeger, a junior in Supply Chain Management of Aviation and Aerospace, also said the experience had a huge impact on her.

“Now I see how important it is for us, as young aspiring professionals, to talk to young kids,” Fleeger said. “They look up to us, and we show them that their aspirations can become a reality. Because of this experience, I aim to involve myself more with the Volusia County elementary schools because I think it is so important for these kids to know what is out there so they can dream big.”

Business Marketing junior Stevie Albright said the experience helped her to polish her communication skills and improve her ability to inspire and motivate groups of people. Zane Zeagler, who is a senior in Business Administration, Management, agreed that the program sharpened the volunteers’ skills.

“This program provides invaluable help to the teachers at the schools, as well as priceless life skills to the volunteers,” Zeagler said. “I would be happy to watch this program, grow, morph and-or expand around Embry-Riddle to provide similar opportunities to students from all colleges.”

Aviation Business junior Callum Mann said he thought the program was very successful in reaching the kids in the classroom.

“The young students showed an incredible attentiveness to learn the concepts we presented,” he said. “I have no doubt that the concepts we taught will leave a lasting impression on them.”

Dr. Lin Zhao, professor and senior associate dean of the College of Business, called Hinebaught’s collaboration with Junior Achievement an illustration of “how our faculty consistently strive to go above and beyond the classroom, and their dedication to enriching student learning experiences and better preparing students for successful futures.”

“I’m grateful," Hinebaugh said, "that my students had this opportunity to partner with Junior Achievement. It’s a pleasure to see my students impact our local community through service learning.”

For Radzimski, the experience was “a fantastic way to broaden my horizons.

“I think that a lot of us Embry-Riddle students tend to live inside of bubbles. We go to a state-of-the-art school and often come from more privileged backgrounds. By going into these lower-income elementary schools, it really forced me and my peers to reevaluate how we perceive our local area and to understand how important it is to give back whenever possible.”

Posted In: Business