Howard County’s Academy of Finance Students Collaborate With Patterson High School Students in Baltimore
By Maddy Halbach
To a group of Howard County and Baltimore City high school students, the word “community” means making the world around them a better place to live, or a group of individuals focused on achieving a common goal to make a difference.
After the unrest in Baltimore City last year, a group of Howard County’s Academy of Finance students were concerned this could occur in their greater community. Discussing the incident with each other brought attention to the needs of the individuals living in the vicinity and a desire to make a difference.
They brainstormed ways to create meaningful projects for revitalizing Southeast Baltimore. When contacted, Loretta Kavanaugh, a business teacher at Patterson High School in Baltimore City, agreed that a collaboration between the two schools would be an exciting way for students to learn entrepreneurship while making an impact. She shared this opportunity with her students, who immediately wanted to participate.
The students first met through video conferencing to discuss possible business ideas and then created teams to develop six business plans that would have the most impact for the neighborhood. They then met in person to iron out schedules, assign work and develop business plan outlines.
Students worked with assigned mentors from local businesses in the area and discussed the process of revitalizing urban areas with the Howard County Director of Planning and Zoning Valdis Lazdins.
The teams communicated regularly through Skype, Facetime, text and teleconference to discuss the project and work in Google docs to write their business plans. In February, the teams met at Patterson High School to analyze data collected from their market research.
Students are scheduled to complete their business plans in time to compete in a state competition being held at the end of April, called Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship Competition.
Business plans include a teen resource and career center, a travelling 3-D ping pong tournament, a soup truck for the homeless, a payday loan company that charges low interest rates, a gym/study activity center and a tutoring center.
How is this impacting student learning? Students are engaged as they are applying their knowledge and skills, developing business communication and networking skills and creating meaningful student-centered projects. They are making friends from outside their local school districts, and as they work together, their confidence in their abilities is increasing.
Brooke Rankin, a student from Howard County, summed up the student experience this way: “Our collaboration with Patterson has been a great opportunity. As a class, we have been able to do more of a ‘real world’ application project. Plus, we get the pleasure of putting more minds together while working with our team members at Patterson. I really enjoy the business plan project, and I hope that some of our business ideas will be afforded the opportunity to actually be used and help benefit the Baltimore City community as a whole.”
Dr. Maddy Halbach, Ph.D., NBCT, is an Academy of Finance teacher with the Howard County Public School System. She can be reached at 410-313-6998.