Teaching life skills and demonstrating excellence

  • Posted: Monday, June 24, 2024, 10:52 am

Pantexan Shawn S. interacting with students at JA BizTown.
Pantexan Shawn S. interacting with students at JA BizTown.

Balancing a budget, paying bills, taking out loans, and voting in elections are not typical tasks that you think of 5th grade students completing. The reality of these life responsibilities is exposed to Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) students through Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown, located at AmTech Career Academy.

Set up as a simulation town, JA Biztown gives elementary students experience operating banks, managing restaurants, taking out loans, voting in elections, buying cars, and more. Students are connected to real-world educational lessons through this learning experience. In addition to financial literacy, participating in this activity teaches students work and career readiness skills.

Pantex is a proud supporter of the local JA BizTown partnership with AISD. Every month during the 2023-2024 school year, more than a dozen Pantexans have volunteered their time guiding students through the simulation. When the school year ends, Pantex will have donated approximately 1,500 volunteer hours to JA BizTown.

“Our partnership with our Pantex volunteers is invaluable,” Dana W., JA of the High Plains capstone director said. “To see our Pantex volunteers teaching our students how to sound out big words, fill out a check correctly, or just simply pouring into our students that the world is their oyster is something you can’t put a price tag on. Nothing beats harder than the heart of a volunteer!”

One of those dedicated volunteers is Pantex metrology senior manager Shawn S., who can be found volunteering at his usual spot: the Xcel Energy simulation.

“My favorite memory from BizTown is seeing the lightbulb go off in the kids’ heads,” Shawn said. “I think it’s very important for Pantex to interact with our community, and BizTown is a perfect way to do that.”

Pantex’s partnership with abbr title="Amarillo Independent School District">AISD was recently recognized with the distinction of being a district “Partner in Excellence.” Pantex received this honor due to the dedicated volunteers who spent their time teaching and mentoring young students.

“Pantex is one of those outstanding partners who see the value of the work we’re doing to get our young professionals trained, skilled, and ready for the workforce,” AmTech Superintendent Jay Barrett said. “They realize that preparation begins well before high school, which is one reason why they have committed so many volunteer hours to BizTown—we could not do what we do here without them.”

In addition to Pantex’s volunteer work at BizTown, the plant also has a business feature in the simulation, complete with a replica of a wall that is found onsite in the John C. Drummond Center (JCDC).

“This partnership bolsters our need and desire to be an active partner in our communities,” Pantex Site Manager Colby Yeary said. “Attributes such as understanding a citizen’s rights and responsibilities and developing the skills necessary for successful participation in the modern working world are common among both Pantex and BizTown.”

Pantex is proud to give back to its neighbors in the Texas Panhandle and desires to take a dynamic role in helping the surrounding communities. Pantex’s partnership with BizTown and local schools is one way that Pantex employees continue to do just that: helping where they can.

Pantex deputy site manager Kenny Steward with leaders from Junior Achievement of the High Plains
Pantex deputy site manager Kenny Steward with leaders from Junior Achievement of the High Plains in front of Pantex’s feature within BizTown.