Class gives DHS students real-world experience
When De Soto High School senior Ashley Carlson is at her In House Training" class, she knows she has to put on her work face.
In House Training, created by teacher Kathy Pine, is a class designed to function as an advertising and promotions business, where students create everything from their logo to the products, such as business forms, they are hired to develop.
"The program gives me practical experience," Carlson said. "She [Pine] treats it like a business."
Carlson and 12 classmates have been hard at work the last three-and-a-half weeks marketing their services to businesses and community members in exchange for the cost of supplies.
They are capable of producing business cards, flyers, posters, brochures, newsletters and more.
Pine says the equipment used is cutting edge so their products are of high quality.
Pine acts as a supervisor for the students. All promotion materials and potential clients have to receive her approval first.
Pine initially introduced the working program to the school board in September. Board member Jim Plummer thought the program sounded like a good idea.
"It's terrific," he said. "The main thing is that they are learning how the real world works."
Carlson says she's learning how to use various software programs, work as a team and the importance of deadlines.
"We recently worked on a sports program, and we had to work hard to get it done on time," Carlson said.
Junior Julie Beck says she too is having fun and learning at the same time.
"It's fun to use my computer skills in a job-like setting," Beck said. "I'm sure I'll take the class again."
The class will be a permanent fixture at De Soto High because of a state vocation grant , which mandates the program continue year after year. Pine received approval for the funds in July.
After that, she said, the first thing to do was to pick the "employees." Students with previous computer experience received priority.
Pine leads the group with an extensive business and teaching background, which she uses to guide the students without complete direction.
"I leave most of the creative process up to them," Pine said. "It gives them the opportunity to see what it takes to run a business."
The first project for the group was to decide on a logo and company slogan. After that, members began marketing. They have recently begun soliciting area businesses with their services.
Although the team hasn't acquired any outside work yet, they expect that to change in November.
"To get the operation up and running has been challenging for the students, but they're learning what it takes to operate a small business," Pine said.
So far the program has been well received by the community, she said. But while students wait for the first phone call to work outside of school, they're keeping busy in the classroom.
"When we aren't working on promoting our business, we are learning about new software," Carlson said. "It's a real learning experience all around."