Through a pilot partnership program with the office-supply firm Kinko's, Southfield High School has opened its very own student-run Kinko's store, which provides services to the school district as well as to area citizens.IBM provides more details on its initiative at Mackenzie High School in Detroit.
The store is part of the curriculum offered by the Global Business and Information Technology Academy within Southfield High. Students in business classes are assigned to work at the store, handling all areas of operation from marketing to management. The store provides office products such as business cards and services such as copying and flier production to its clientele. The equipment to establish the store is sold by Kinko's to the school district at cost, and all profits from the store are redirected into store operations and a scholarship program for seniors in the Academy. The school saves money on equipment, receives higher quality services and products, and the profits return to the school and students rather than to a vendor.
Tina Richmond, the Kinko's liaison for Southfield High, explained that the Southfield program is a way for the company to advertise its name, while providing great service and educational opportunities to the school district and its students.
Southfield Public Schools administrators praise the program, saying it has improved education and office services within the district, and will continue to grow taking on more of the district's office service needs and providing excellent, quality results.
"It's a win-win situation," says Margaret Holcomb, Southfield School District's business partnership director.
Southfield High is not the only school that has implemented the in-house office store idea. Mackenzie High in Detroit has teamed up with IBM to open MacTech, a full-service office-supply store. MacTech provides both services and supplies, including word processing, lamination, flyer design, resume creation, and business cards to school staff, students, businesses, community organizations, and even other schools. As with the Southfield-Kinko's partnership, the profits generated by MacTech are redirected to the school.
Although these business-school partnership programs are in their infancy stage, they nevertheless are a good example of how public schools can use the private sector to improve education for students. Schools can receive higher-quality products and services and reap profits by contracting with businesses that employ their students.
Meanwhile, students have the chance to learn valuable skills that will serve them well for years to come as well as opening doors to future internship and training possibilities with the firms. And isn't that what education is all about?
MACTECH, a full-service office store based on the “Office Max/Kinko’s” concept, is located in Detroit’s David Mackenzie High School and is operated by its students. Growing out of The Detroit Compact Program, a consortium of businesses and corporations working with middle and high schools, this student-run business is part of the high school’s Business Services and Technology Department and the Tech Prep Partnership 2000 Consortium’s curriculum development initiative.I had earlier described a similar possibility at the college level and possibilities at the school level.
Students have an opportunity to work in an entrepreneurial business setting and be trained in the “office store” concept while attending school. The two-year Office Technology and Production curriculum offers classes in two-hour blocks, designed to provide practical work experience in office and computer skills, communication arts, accounting, sales, product services and advertising. Asof September 1998, 75 students are participating in this program.
MACTECH serves students and staff, the local school community, individuals, businesses, organizations and youth clubs in the Detroit metropolitan area. Services include business cards, graphics, resumes, reproduction, lamination, binding, address labels, flyers, word processing, enlargement, bulletins and more. Students are trained in taking information from a customer, filling out and completing work orders, laying out business cards, and more. Currently, MACTECH fills 20 to 30 customer orders weekly — both large and small jobs. The students run the store as a business, and the revenue they generate helps the school purchase equipment. Since the students work as part of the curriculum, they are not paid.
Because of the similarity of the MACTECH curriculum training to the products and services available in the IBM Business Support Center in Southfield, MI, students are trained on computers and software at the Center. As part of their training, students also time-stamp their work and record the specific times they enter and leave the Center. This gives students an understanding of what it is like to be in a real work environment and be evaluated as if they were working at a regular job. IBM personnel provide additional quality work site experiences for students — such as job shadowing and field trips — as well as the office furniture, equipment and supplies that make the setting and
environment conducive to business and industry standards.
The hands-on training and skills students receive have the potential of providing a program of study that will increase motivation and achievement; develop students’ interests, abilities, and acquisition of knowledge and skills; and provide them with office skills that will prepare them for employment opportunities at IBM or other similar businesses. Their growth will encourage them to seek higher education. School staff noted that this is the first such school-to-career program in Detroit to be housed in a general rather than a vocational high school. This school-to-career curriculum is also designed to prepare students for careers in desktop publishing and the graphic arts field, as well as the fast-growing field of document generation and processing and of office technology.