Mind Your Own Business
Students are operating banks and cafés in our public schools. Welcome to modern education. It’s the real word.
(page 1 of 3)
Unlike most high school students, Lauren Camp doesn’t spend her lunch period gabbing with friends in the cafeteria. Instead, you’ll find the Appoquinimink High School sophomore at a teller station at the in-school Wilmington Trust (an expected merger with M&T Bank had not been completed at press time), one of numerous student-run enterprises at the high school, which opened in 2008.
The school’s “Main Street” also includes a café, school store and a laundry service operated by developmentally challenged students.
When planning its new school, Appoquinimink School District did a lot of research into the design of 21st century schools because it wanted “to seize the opportunity to incorporate into our design better ways to deliver the curriculum,” says outgoing superintendent Tony Marchio. The district found that many traditional public schools are using school-based enterprises to tie curriculum to the real world.
“A lot of high school kids don’t make the connection between high school and the world of work,” Marchio says. “We wanted to make that connection really obvious. We believe that if the curriculum is relevant it leads to greater rigor. And the students enjoy rolling up their sleeves and learning these quite sophisticated skills.” The ventures have been so successful at Appoquinimink, Marchio adds, that the district decided to retrofit its Middletown High School for a bank, café and store.
School-based enterprises (SBEs) are actual businesses run by students under the direction of teachers. Most serve the school community, but in some cases school businesses reach out to the larger community as well. The students who work at Appoquinimink’s in-school bank, for example, also visit nearby Bunker Hill Elementary School weekly to take deposits from students there who have savings accounts at Wilmington Trust. Renee Sealy, school finance secretary at Appoquinimink High School, does all of the school’s banking at the in-school bank. “It makes life easier for me. It’s hard to find the time to go out to the bank during the day,” she says. “And the students are great. They are knowledgeable about what they are doing, and they are very conscientious.”
Student bank teller Camp says she enjoys teaching her peers about banking and financial management. She plans a career in banking and the work experience she is getting, combined with her courses in banking, is giving her a head start in that direction.
While people often tend to stay long-term with the first bank they use, gaining customers was not Wilmington Trust’s motivation for opening the in-school bank, says Louise Frock, vice president of marketing. “We’re not looking at it as a way to make money. It’s what the students are getting out of it that interested us. The earlier people learn about managing their finances the better,” she says. “It also gives students an opportunity to work and gain insight firsthand into how a bank works.”
Page 2: Mind Your Own Business, continues...