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CTE Career Clusters: Business, Finance students learn through real-world experience

Two of the Career and Technical Education course clusters offered at McDowell High School have students learning more than just the basics of business and finance.

The Business Management and Administrative and Finance course clusters offer students a variety of real-world financial skills they can use in the financial world or in their own business one day.

One of those classes, personal finance, allows students to get a better understanding of the checks and balances of life.

“We teach a little bit of everything,” said personal finance instructor Patrick Young. “We just finished insurance and before that was credit cards and credit in general. Now we’re talking about smart spending and consumer spending. We’ve talked about taxes, income, gross net pay, how you figure all that out and other types of deductions that come out of your check.”

Classes in the Business Management and Administrative and Finance cluster of courses have guest speakers come in and talk to students about different topics. Students also have the chance to tour local businesses and get a better idea of what makes a business run.

“My class recently went on a field trip to the State Employees’ Credit Union,” said personal finance instructor Angie Allison. “Misty Hensley walked my students through the differences between credit unions and banks, and the different accounts that you can have, like credit cards and debit cards.”

Through field trips and real-world exercises, students are able to earn a variety of certifications that will help them in the business world and life.

“We do a variety of things in this course,” said business instructor Daniel Smith. “One of the first things we do is go through Microsoft Excel. It ends with a certification test, which is a real certification from Microsoft. We just finished Excel and we’re getting started on Microsoft Access. We also have a Word and PowerPoint course.”

Course like business law, business management, accounting I, accounting II, principles of business and finance, personal finance and entrepreneurship I allow students to explore different aspects of the business world and add to their resume.

“The Everfi certification is a financial certification that students can receive,” said Allison. “Students have to complete modules with it and take quizzes. If they make a 70 or better they pass it. Every module goes along with our curriculum.”

Students who have an interest in business will have the chance to further explore the field next year when two new courses will be added to the department’s roster.

“Next year, things are changing,” said Smith. “We are starting Project Lead the Way. It’s an initiative in North Carolina and next year we will expand our course offerings through the program. I will be teaching scientific and technical visualization and game art and design.”

Scientific technical visualization will help students learn how to create 3D models that can be used to demonstrate different scenarios, like the way a jet engine works.

Game art and design will help students learn the basics of design.

This article was originally published in McDowell News on January 2, 2016. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Landdis Hollifield

Landdis Hollifield is a multimedia journalist with a passion for education issues.