Joe Reardon's Volunteer Journey with Junior Achievement of Maine

Joe Reardon, Retail Banking Manager at Saco & Biddeford Savings, has been volunteering with Junior Achievement of Maine for over 15 years. The non-profit works to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy, a mission Joe says aligns with both his values and the values of SBSI.

In a recent interview, Joe shared with us how he got started volunteering and discusses all the things he loves about teaching JA curriculum in local classrooms. 

“Carolyn Lamontagne, who used to be the manager of our Old Orchard Beach branch, was involved in this program for many years and one time I decided to tag along with her. I immediately fell in love with it.
The first time I volunteered was in Biddeford, and I was captivated by the students' energy and engagement. In the beginning I was pretty anxious about it, but through the years it’s become easier and now I’m really comfortable teaching in classrooms.

My most recent volunteer experience was this past spring at Jameson Elementary School in Old Orchard Beach. I actually volunteered in Mrs. White’s classroom, who was my teacher when I was younger. 
I vividly remember having her as a teacher, and my mom always said she was one of my favorites. It’s interesting how it all circled back around like that.

Volunteering for JA is straightforward, which I appreciate. They provide a classroom program that consists of numerous interactive activities, and when I enter the classroom, a teacher assists me with organizing everything. Typically, I teach topics related to Financial Literacy, entrepreneurship, or work readiness.

I like teaching entrepreneurship because I feel like it is one of the most memorable experiences for the kids. They get to tell stories about starting their own business, which is the essence of the original JA program.

I usually try to teach in middle schools, particularly in 7th grade. I find that these students can be a bit more challenging to engage, and it’s a challenge I am happy to take on. 

The students genuinely appreciate seeing a new face in the classroom. Many of them will approach me and express their gratitude, and you can just tell it’s so sincere. Walking out of the classroom after each session is really rewarding because you can see they get a lot out of it. 

The mutual experience of teaching and learning is so important and special. It encompasses not only my values, but the values of Saco & Biddeford Savings as well. 

With the summer nearing an end, I’m excited to get back into volunteering either this fall or in early spring of next year. I encourage anyone interested in volunteering with JA to just do it - it’s such a rewarding experience to give the gift of learning for generations to come.”