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Grand Island High School introduced a new academic offering during a kick-off breakfast business mixer Sept. 19 at the Western New York Welcome Center.
GIHS business teachers told GI business leaders of the launch of the National Academy of Finance which will allow both businesses and students to profit from successful internships.
In describing NAF, teacher Cheryl Chamberlain said the department was “very interested in building something at Grand Island which the students could take away after they graduate to be career and college ready.”
The school already has a successful DECA business club, Chamberlain said, and “we really just wanted to build on that.”
The teachers visited Detroit to train for the academy. The school currently is an academy of finance.
Business teacher Amy Boutet said part of the NAF model “is working on curriculum and instruction that actually gives students a clear pathway when they come out of here. So right now we’re in that building process of making sure we have appropriate courses and a broad enough amount of courses where our students get a wealth of different business fundamentals, things for marketing, entrepreneurship, accounting and then they would finish it all with internships so they get that real work based experience. So curriculum is a huge part of this. Another part is job shadowing experience, mock interviews, things that will give our students a leg up over other students in our area.”
“But to have a successful workplace learning programming,” Boutet said, “we really need support from our local businesses. We need people who are willing to partner with us and really provide – whether it be activities or a permanent kind of place at their company – for our students to be able to learn and grow and kind of apply their knowledge that has come in through our program.”
A paid internship is a core element of the program, though “paid” is not necessarily with money alone.
Chamberlain said, “the paid piece really gives them a vested interest in your company. So, when we look at internships, when we look at a student who does an unpaid internship versus a student who does a paid internship, that student who has a paid internship really has a piece of the company. They feel like an employee, they’re learning, they’re growing with the company, and after college, hope to return maybe to that company someday and give back to that company.”
Boutet said a prospective student for the academy would be identified in the ninth grade year. Students who apply for the program would go through an interview process, and faculty would look at their transcripts, at their interest level, and club involvements. In their 10th grade year, they would take two to three courses that year as electives.
Schools like Hamburg and Lancaster have NAF programs, they said, that make students “career and college ready.”
“We just want to give our kids more opportunities as they go through high school and now here’s an amazing program,” Chamberlain said, because it involves “giving students something to really feel a part of and that they’re not just a part of high school, but they’re actually a part of this smaller, organized group.”