Meet Toni Schlieper and Andrea Imro, JA’s Newest Additions to the Education Team
Author: Beck Harhai
Published: Friday, 02 Dec 2022
Image caption: Toni Schlieper (left) and Andrea Imro (right)
Junior Achievement of Western PA (JA) recently made two new additions to their education team. Toni Schlieper, Program Manager, and Andrea Imro, JA BizTown® Coordinator, joined the team on November 16 and are excited to make a lasting impact on the organization, educational programs and schools in our region.
As a Program Manager, Schlieper is responsible for providing educational opportunities to students, teachers and volunteers across JA’s territory. Imro, a JA BizTown® Coordinator, helps run, maintain and improve JA BizTown®, a fully interactive, mock town that simulates the day-to-day functions of a thriving community. Continue reading to get to know JA’s newest staff members a little bit better!
Can you tell me about your professional background?
Schlieper: I’m a graduate of Grove City College with a degree in elementary and early childhood education with an emphasis in environmental science. I then went on to teach for 18 years in multiple grade levels and subjects including K-3 technology, K-6 gifted and first grade. I even have experience writing curriculum for a local cyber-school. A few years ago, I decided to leave teaching, and I briefly worked for a finance-education technology company before joining the team here at JA.
Imro: I went to the University of Pittsburgh for elementary education and went on to teach for over 20 years. Throughout my career, I taught kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, and sixth grade at St. Bernadette’s in Monroeville. After I retired from teaching, I was hired by General Motors to do assessment in their plants. I was responsible for running new employee simulations to ensure all new hires were aware of safety procedures and were prepared for their jobs.
What drew you to Junior Achievement?
Schlieper: I’ve worked closely with JA before joining the team. I have a background volunteering for JA, and, through my experiences, I met and worked with some of their phenomenal staff members. More than anything, though, I love JA's mission and passion for financial literacy and wellness within families. I have three children of my own, so I know the importance of financial literacy and preparing children for success as adults.
Imro: I worked closely with JA as a teacher with the “JA in a Day” program. I absolutely loved the program and the lessons that it taught my students. I felt especially drawn to JA, because my husband is a small business owner. I understand the importance of entrepreneurship and financial literacy from both the view of a teacher and as an entrepreneur's spouse. There really is a need for JA in both schools and the community to build life skills for success.
What do you like most about your new position?
Schlieper: I’m extremely excited to collaborate with schools to see how we can promote JA’s mission and programs. I’ll be working with our current schools to see how we can support them while reaching out to new schools to see how we can get them involved with JA too. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to connect students to our amazing programs and prepare them for the real world.
Imro: I like that this job combines my teaching and assessment backgrounds. Like teaching in a classroom, I’ll have the chance to help and guide students through their tasks in JA BizTown. Yet, at the same time, I'm also responsible for ensuring the simulation runs smoothly and successfully like I did at General Motors. I really feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds with this position.
What are your goals for your new position?
Schlieper: As of right now, my main goal is to reach and impact schools that are not already involved with JA. I’d also like to find a way to utilize my background in education-technology and bring that element into our programming.
Imro: A goal of mine is to make the JA BizTown® volunteer experience more seamless. Our students take multiple classes to prepare themselves for their trip to JA BizTown®, and I feel like volunteers should be given similar opportunities. My first step in achieving this goal is developing a volunteer video that will be sent to each volunteer before they arrive at our facility.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Schlieper: I’m most proud of my diverse experiences and accomplishments. I taught multiple grade levels and subjects which allowed me to see things through a different lens and better meet the needs of all learners. I also have experience writing curriculum and content for educators and working for a business promoting financial literacy. I’m extremely proud of all my experiences and the way they have enabled me to be well-rounded and see things from so many different angles.
Imro: I would say I’m most proud that I have expanded my educational experience from working with young children to working with adults. When I retired from teaching and began my job at General Motors, I really started experiencing personal satisfaction and confidence. When you’re working at a school with young students, you can always find reasons to feel like you’re making an impact. Until I started at General Motors, I never realized you can make an impact with adults as well. I’m proud to know I have the ability and confidence to help people of any age and background.
What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
Schlieper: I spend a lot of time with my children. I have two boys that are deeply involved in travel hockey and a daughter who loves to dance, so I’m always on the go with them. I’m also involved with my church through choir, worship and vacation bible school. I also love cooking – our home is a dairy and nut free zone, so I enjoy experimenting with different recipes.
Imro: I love boating. We have a boat and a cabin, so we spend every weekend during the summer on the lake. All my children and husband love to water surf, and we enjoy spending the day out on the water together with friends. I'm also an avid reader, and I love dogs.