The Role of Educators
JSA’s student leaders benefit from the educational guidance of adults at all levels of the organization. At the chapter level, the Teacher Advisor helps the chapter’s student leaders by suggesting debate and discussion topics, directing students to sources for research, and helping the chapter remain non-partisan by ensuring that all sides of the issues discussed are represented.
JSA allows for an exchange of ideas through stimulating student debates, thought talks, problem-solving, and a variety of simulations. By participating in these activities, each JSA member gains a more intelligent and informed viewpoint. JSA also provides a wonderful chance to meet and make friends with scores of other bright, involved students who have similar interests.
JSA is a national organization organized at the local chapter level. These chapters collectively form regions which coordinate communication with chapters and run regional events annually. The regions form states which run three large overnight conventions a year, and the national level of general program operations.
Starting JSA Chapters
Chapters are the heart of JSA. It is where students learn basic leadership through planning, fundraising, and public speaking. Have students that are interested? Download our step-by-step guide on starting a chapter at your high school.
Attend JSA Conventions
Teacher Advisors are very active in helping chapters prepare for conventions by navigating proper approval from the school and/or school district, sending registration materials to the Junior State offices, and supervising students on the trip.
Though JSA is a student-run organization, without engaged Teacher Advisors our programs would not be as successful and educational as they are today. We hope you will find being a JSA Teacher Advisor a very rewarding experience.
TAs are a great resource for chapters when it comes to providing ideas for events, debates, activism, or whatever a chapter may decide to do. Additionally, TAs should guide students in running meetings, debates, and other chapter activities.
Membership is one indicator of chapter health. TAs are a valuable asset for student leaders when it comes to recruiting and retaining members.
How Educators Help
Tips for Effective Chapter Management
Build a Culture of Leadership
Strong chapters have a strong culture of leadership. Experienced students identify underclassmen and train them on being effective leaders.
Delegating can be difficult for students, but it is an important skill to learn and TAs can often help students learn and practice this skill.
Identify underclassmen who are dedicated and have leadership potential. Purposefully train these underclassmen so they are ready to lead the club in the future.
Keep a positive attitude and focus on results!
Always offer support and help before criticism. Student leaders sometimes drop the ball on their responsibility. Encourage your students to hold each other accountable, but they should seek to help each other before criticizing another student’s performance.
Teacher Advisor Profile
JSA Teacher Advisor David Knatcal of Burroughs H.S. talks about his work with his JSA Chapter and student leaders.
How did you become a JSA Teacher Advisor?
I became a JSA Teacher Advisor by accident. Twelve years ago I had a student ask me why we didn’t have a debate team on campus. I told him I was in an organization when I was in high school [JSA] that did debate and I provided him with some information. A week later, he had all the paperwork done with the school and I signed his form as Teacher Advisor. As far as my time in JSA, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life and shaped who I became. Many of the friends I still have today, over 30 years later, are friends I had when I was in JSA.
What are some challenges at the chapter level to running a successful JSA?
The biggest challenge Burroughs JSA has is the school district. Our district has continuously imposed arbitrary and financially oppressive restrictions on our Chapter. My position is a volunteer position and I know I would have stopped being Teacher Advisor if I wasn’t an alumnus and had such a great experience myself in JSA. The Chapter leaders throughout the history of Burroughs JSA have fostered great relationships with our local school board members and local election officials which has helped ensure the survival of the Chapter. The Chapter has always tried to include school administrators in Chapter activities. This has often been very successful, but not always. However, that hostility itself inspired the Chapter leaders to continue to build community relationships.
Burroughs H.S. has won JSA's National Civic Impact Award three times. Why do you think this Chapter has been so successful?
That’s not a question simply answered. There are so many little things that have gone into it. But the one big idea has always been the dedication of the Chapter leaders. The Chapter leaders have given so much of their time and effort. The leaders come in with a feeling they are doing something big. And they lead accordingly.