Private companies coming to public school programs

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 10:49am

Antioch High School has teamed up with The Tennessee Credit Union in the first business partnership announced under a new effort to transform Metro’s high schools.

As part of the collaboration, approved Tuesday night by the school board, the Nashville-based company has agreed to an initial in-kind contribution of $100,000 to Antioch, with annual investments of $50,000 to follow. The idea is to bolster Antioch’s academy of business and finance by bringing financial experts to the classroom, while allowing some students to actually taste the workplace. 

“We made a commitment to get back involved in the community,” said Michael Martin, CEO of The Tennessee Credit Union. “We’re really excited about it. We’ve got some young staff who are going to be over there working with these students. To be the first is always the best.”

The partnership at Antioch should be just the beginning. Metro school administrators have been evaluating academies — or career-themed tracks — at all of Metro’s comprehensive high schools, searching for “naming-rights sponsors” for all of them.

Next week, the school district is hosting what it’s calling a “Celebration of Current and Future Business-Education Partnerships,” where several collaborations at other high schools are expected to be unveiled. Each should touch on different career themes.

“Our goal is to provide these types of opportunities in all of our schools for all of our students,” said Jay Steele, associate superintendent of Metro’s high schools.

“In today’s difficult economic times, it’s imperative for school districts to develop partnerships with the community, partnerships that enrich the curriculum and expose our students to high-skill, high-wage industries within Nashville,” Steele said.

In Antioch’s business and finance academy, “select students” will be interviewed and chosen to work for six weeks this summer as paid employees at The Tennessee Credit Union, where they will be trained in various financial skills.

Under the plan, The Tennessee Credit Union will install a student-run credit union inside Antioch. Students who complete the summer program will operate the new credit union as branch managers and tellers. It will open during the fall of the 2010-2011 school year.

“The student-run credit union will be open during lunch hours and will be a fully functioning credit union, conducting all transactions except students loans,” Steele said.

Participating students will be taught lessons in ethics, corporate values and financial literacy and will still earn full high-school credit.