Mind Your Own Business
Students are operating banks and cafés in our public schools. Welcome to modern education. It’s the real word.
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Appoquinimink’s bank is one of a handful of in-school banks and credit unions in the state. Wilmington Trust began operating an in-school bank at Dover High in 2001, and just recently opened one at Middletown High School. For the past two years, Newark High School has had a full-service Louviers Credit Union onsite with student tellers working under the supervision of a Louviers employee.
“This year there is more awareness at school about the credit union’s existence, so we are seeing a big growth in the number of staff and students doing their banking here,” says Newark business teacher Kristin Gamgort. “The students who work at the credit union are able to take the theory that they’ve learned and apply it hands on. They also learn the importance of attendance and being on time to work.”
Although Delaware has added three in-school banks or credit unions in the past year, they are still a rarity. According to a 2010 article in USA Today, in the entire United States there are only several dozen in-school banks operating. Credit unions are more plentiful, with an estimated 324 in-school credit union branches.
School stores are by far the most common form of SBE in Delaware: 26 public high schools and 5 public middle schools have student-run stores, according to an informal survey taken by Lisa Stoner-Torbert, education associate for business, finance and marketing at the Delaware Department of Education. Woodbridge High School has a Day Care Center, she adds, and Laurel High School plans to open an after-school Internet café in its cafeteria.
Most non-vocational-technical high schools lack the commercial kitchens necessary for student-run cafés, but Mount Pleasant is a prominent exception. The Knight’s Café there has been open for 24 years, according to culinary arts teacher Christine Kirkpatrick.
“There is a huge job market in culinary arts, straight out of high school or after culinary arts school,” Kirkpatrick says. She has had students go on after high school to graduate from Johnson & Wales and the Culinary Institute of America. And while most of the students working in the school’s café will not pursue careers as chefs, they are still learning valuable life skills. “A lot of these kids are so accustomed to McDonald’s, Burger King and fast food that they don’t know what food looks like in its raw state. It’s a big eye opener for them,” Kirkpatrick says.
Working in an SBE is not required by state standards—there are far too few of them to make that possible—but the opportunity complements well some of the options for the Career Pathways courses that Delaware students are required to take, Stoner-Torbert says.
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