Courtesy of Kevin Gormley
Picture a state-of-the-art conference center in Rm. 110, which is currently a computer lab, a vibrant stock ticker in the spine, and new, gleaming technology in the business classrooms on the second floor. Imagine a set of pristine laptops in each business classroom instead of the antiquated desktop computers that students use now.
All of the aforementioned renovations will accompany the opening of the Business and Finance Academy at NKHS next year. A $250,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Education (R.I.D.E.) will pay for the upgrades and other upcoming expenses that are associated with the academy, and the School Dept. has agreed to cover any future costs.
Beginning in Sept. of 2016, high school students from across the state will be eligible to attend NKHS in order to take courses in finance and business administration, such as Accounting I, Business Economics, and Finance and Investments. These students, as well as any current NKHS students who are interested, will be able to pursue a course pathway and certificate in either Finance or Business Administration and Management.
According to Mr. Kevin Gormley, chair of the Careers Department, the purpose of the academy is to equip students across the state “with business skills that will get them ahead” in college. In fact, three of the courses in each pathway will offer college credits.
Gormley and his fellow business teachers believe that the program will adequately prepare students for the workforce. “With this unique and useful combination of electives, we will be giving students the skills that they need to be employable right out of high school,” said Ms. Joy Tavano, one of the teachers in the Careers Dept. “They’ll be prepared to go into the working world [immediately] if they choose to.”
In addition to providing students with advanced standing in college and preparing them for careers in business and finance, Gormley believes that the program will benefit students in the college application process. He envisions that the program will become somewhat of a “pipeline to business schools across the Northeast,” such as Bryant University in Smithfield and Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.
Although students from other school districts will need to complete the entire sequence of courses in either the Finance or Business Administration and Management pathways in order to maintain their eligibility to attend NKHS, North Kingstown students can take as many or as few business and finance courses as they would like to. Because the Finance and Business Administration and Management pathways both require totals of 3.5 credits over the course of a student’s high school career, students can complete one of the sequences and still fit most, if not all, honors / AP courses and foreign language classes into their schedules.
Tavano will teach students in the Business and Finance Academy alongside Mr. Frank Fusco, Mr. Richard Garland, and Mr. Brendan Lamboy, while Gormley will oversee the program. Tavano will also coordinate internships for students at local businesses.
Lamboy looks forward to the program because it will lead students “to have a business focus” during their time at NKHS instead of “only taking a business course or two to round out their schedule.”
After the five teachers submitted an application to R.I.D.E. for the grant this past spring, a committee selected NKHS because it “already offers nearly all of the courses needed for the Business and Finance Academy,” Gormley said. While most high schools offer three or four business and finance-related courses, NKHS currently offers about ten. The Careers Dept. will only need to add one new course, Business Economics, in preparation for the academy.
Outside of the courses that will be part of the Business and Finance Academy, the Careers Department offers a wide of variety of electives that range from Basic Foods to Sports Marketing, Communications III, and Introducing STEM Through Game Development. Even if they do not satisfy requirements for either of the pathways within the academy, the majority of the courses in the Careers Dept. connect to business and finance.
The Business and Finance Academy will be similar to the existing Engineering and Robotics pathway. Currently, one student from Narragansett attends NKHS for the purpose of completing a particular sequence of engineering and robotics courses. Gormley has a comparable prediction for the out-of-district enrollment at the Business and Finance Academy next year.
Even though Gormley anticipates that the academy will only draw a handful of new students to NKHS during its inaugural year, he is optimistic about the future of the program. “It’s great for us,” Gormley said. “Because ‘seeing’ is often ‘believing,’ I predict that the academy will grow over time.”
In the meantime, students and staff will benefit from the technological upgrades that the grant will provide. “We are going to have state-of-the-art facilities in this high school [for instruction in business and finance] that most colleges would dream to have,” Gormley said.