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Teacher of the Year- Charles Atinay
April 13, 2012Junior Achievement Bluegrass
Written by Tammy Lane
Charles Atinay, who teaches ninth-grade civics at Henry Clay High School, has come full circle with Junior Achievement.
When Atinay was a freshman at Morton Junior High, social studies teacher Claudette Allen introduced him to JA, which educates young people about work-force readiness, entrepreneurship and basic financial matters such as household budgets and balanced checkbooks.
“Here it is 30 years later and JA is still in my life,” said Atinay, whom Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass honored March 13 as its Teacher of the Year. “I only hope I can give back what she gave to me.”
Allen, who retired in 2004, sat next to him at the Adopt-A-School recognition and awards ceremony, held at the Griffin Gate Marriott. She also still works alongside Atinay as a JA volunteer at Henry Clay.
“I’m well-received in that class because he laid the groundwork. He had a real love for it and is able to sell it to them,” Allen said. “He brings to the table having experienced Junior Achievement (as a teenager) and what it meant to him. Because he has lived through those things he learned in JA, he’s better able to deliver the lessons.”
A Lexington native, Atinay is in his 17th year with Fayette County Public Schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Indiana University and a master’s in education at Georgetown College. During the past 10 years as a host teacher, he has seen firsthand how JA prepares students for the 21st-century work force.
“It supports and reiterates how important and valuable their education is, starting in ninth grade. They hear from somebody else – not just parents and teachers – and that helps motivate them,” he said.
Through this year’s theme of “Real Jobs, Real World,” JA volunteers stress how academic achievement is the initial vehicle that can carry students where they eventually want to go in life, Atinay explained. It’s another way to promote post-secondary education and career opportunities here in Central Kentucky.
“We’re trying to get the kids to start planning a future,” added Allen, who was the first recipient of JA’s Teacher of the Year award.
Ben Dunn, a quality program manager at Trane Commercial Systems, has volunteered in Atinay’s class for five years and nominated him for the 2012 award. He praised Atinay’s steadying influence in the classroom and thanked him for engaging the students and assisting with the lessons.
“If he has a life application, he gives them examples,” Dunn noted. “He makes the experience enjoyable.”
Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass is dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise. The nonprofit organization partners with volunteers from the community to teach elementary students about their roles as individuals, workers and consumers, and to prepare middle and high school students for key economic and workforce issues.
Offering sessions in 11 of its 18 coverage counties, Junior Achievement has about 500 volunteers active in more than 700 classrooms this year. Its adopt-a-school program enables companies to partner with a particular school by funding at least 10 JA classes to underwrite the student materials and volunteer training. JA also has partners that sponsor financial literacy programs.