“Junior Achievement“ presented “JA Europe Teacher of the Year Award“ for the first time 2021.10.28 0 As part of the “Gen-E” European Entrepreneurship Festival held in Lithuania this year, the organisation Junior Achievement presented the first ever “JA Europe Teacher of the Year Award”. It honored entrepreneurship education teachers for the ability to inspire and motivate young people, to help them to discover their inner potential and let them to believe in their power of acting and changing the future. 4 teachers from Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania and Austria received the award. More than 140.000 teachers every year guide students, aged 15 to 19, through the JA Company programme, practical entrepreneurship experience by applying hands-on, innovative and creative teaching methods. Usually the teacher becomes the inspirational role model who inspires students to believe in themselves and discover the power to change the world, to become the generation of the future. In „JA Europe Teacher of the Year Award“ the evaluation committee seeked to find those personalities that challenge students to fully fulfill their potential, who integrate new technologies in the learning process and also use various teaching methods to match student learning styles and needs. The teacher‘s enthusiasm, willing to help students even in after-school hours was also evaluated, as well as how inspirational this teacher is to the whole school or community. For example, some teachers organized international exchange trips for their students’ fledgling companies and this way those students were given the opportunity to meet young entrepreneurs from other countries. “European teachers are recognized world-class educators and we want to celebrate them through this initiative, and also to make their voices heard. Our call to action is to invest in education and to invest in teachers, so that the next generation of Europeans has the best possible learning experience and opportunities to thrive.” – said CEO of JA Europe, Salvatore Nigro. The awards were initiated together with Lithuanian company of United Parcel Service (UPS ASC Lithuania). The jury committee included the owner and founder of UPS ASC Lithuania Vladas Lašas, the leader of Democratic School of Lithuania Nerijus Buivydas, CEO of Learning School Lukas Benevičius, board member of „Junior Achievement“ Lithuania Rasa Bagdonienė, Italian „Junior Achievement“ Teacher Community manager and Jury Committee advisor Armando Persico, representative of the JA Europe Lavinia Borea, CEO of JA Greece Argiris Tzikopoulous, Advisor of the Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania Justina Kugyte. At the award ceremony UPS ASC Lithuania owner and founder Vladas Lašas said entrepreneurial education is different and it is not the same as giving a task to read a book. „It‘s about doing things for the first time. This is why it is critical for students to have a mentor, an advisor, a teacher. Teachers are critically important to our future entrepreneurs,“ – said V. Lašas. “Behind every successful student we will find a dedicated teacher. It‘s time to underline the importance of educators and acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers across Europe on their students, schools and stakeholder communities around them. We are honored to initiate this Award in the biggest entrepreneurship education network across Europe”- said CEO of JA Lithuania, Andželika Rusteikienė. The first place was presented to Sedipeh Wagner from Sweden, who works in the Introduction Program. She teaches immigrants and vulnerable students (some of them had been involved in abuse, drug use and criminal actions). According to her colleagues, Sedipeh goes above and beyond for her students – she believes the Company Program helps her students a great deal to get integrated to Sweden. „Academic life isn‘t for everyone. However, being entrepreneurial and creative, is“ – she said in her pitch to the international jury. Creation of mini companies gives her students hope and self-confidence, although she has to build trust with every one of them and choose different teaching methods as the students come from very different backgrounds. Her goal is to help them create a happy, sustainable lifestyle and to not return to their old behavior. Two second places were awarded to Henrik Graversen from Denmark and Laima Girdauskienė from Lithuania. Henrik is considered one of the most successful student Company Program teachers in Denmark, teaching Marketing and Innovation. „Startups learn from confrontation with reality – and so do students of Marketing and Innovation,“ – says H. Graversen. Almost a half of Henrik‘s led student companies had qualified for national finals of the Company Program and his team, called „Bubbles“ won the first global „Junior Achievement“ prize for students: The de la Vega Global Entrepreneurship Award. His students describe the mini-company program as being the most rewarding of all that they have learned. Laima Girdauskienė is one of the most active „Junior Achievement“ program teachers in Lithuania. She has guided more than 200 student companies throughout her career and now can be proud that her students have grown into successful business leaders of Lithuania. She invites local businessmen and representatives of various official institutions to meet her students, besides that she actively seeks international opportunities for her students. She‘s also one of the pioneers of improving Lithuania‘s educational system including entrepreneurial education. Third place was awarded to Thomas Pfleger, an Austrian teacher, who has been involved in the Company Program for seven years. He is the regional subject coordinator for student companies and applies an innovative learning approach for everyone who decides to create a mini-company. He seeks for ways to motivate his students even at times of failure and for different teaching methods, depending on the student’s personality. Besides the main winners, among TOP 10 teachers to get the first time-ever the “JA Europe Teacher of the Year Award” were recognized: Zdenek Pospisil from Czech Republic, Laura Arrigoni form Italy, Roland Struwe from Germany, Jenni Korte from Finland, Adi Talmon from Israel and Gloria Reino from Portugal. In total there were 29 nominees for these awards from different European countries.