Transforming Business Engagement at School, Part Two

Guest post by Tommy T. Welch

In last week’s post, I described how Meadowcreek High School (MHS) has partnered with local and national businesses to develop a robust program of paid internships that are enhancing student learning and long-term curriculum development. Of course, this did not happen overnight. It took years of effort from hundreds of people all working toward a common goal. But I am absolutely confident that other communities can replicate our success. Below are a few tips on how to get started—please feel free to contact me for additional details and assistance (my email and Twitter handle can be found in my bio below).

  1. DO NOT ASK FOR MONEY! Instead, seek the industry- and job-specific knowledge and skills of the business partners.
  2. Establish common goals:
    • Create a memorandum of understanding with business and school goals
    • Know what your school needs and communicate it (e.g. increase funding to pay for AP exams)
    • Know what your partners need (e.g. increase applicants for infotech positions)
    • Understand your core values and each company’s core values—if those align, you will be in business for years
    • Determine length of partnership and evaluation metrics
  1. Monitor and implement:
    • Designate or establish a formal method of communicating and managing the business partners
    • Ensure companies have a voice in the curriculum development and instruction
    • Create an advisory committee if one does not exist
    • Opportunities should directly affect the students and teachers
  1. Celebrate and sustain relationships:
    • Set time twice a year to publicly celebrate your partners with performance awards; take the time to recognize them in their space—nominate them for a chamber or local community award
    • Ensure each business’s top management is aware of the partnership and the progress
    • Create a press release to disseminate information on progress
    • Invite the business partner’s network to join the school’s effort

When schools and businesses partner and invest in paid internships, businesses benefit from the completion of meaningful work while developing a highly skilled and diverse talent pipeline. Teachers benefit by seeing real-world application of knowledge and skills, which transfers to their instructional strategies.

At MHS, we have realized tremendous benefits from these win-win partnerships. I encourage everyone to consider developing similar programs to tap the full potential of your students and tighten the alignment between our educational mission and the economic future of our communities.

Think about how you can apply some of the best practices described above to develop paid internship programs and other forms of partnership with businesses in your community.

Tommy T. Welch, PhD, is the principal of Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA. Dr. Welch is a finalist for the 2018 National Principal of the Year award. He is also the 2017 Georgia Principal of Year and he was named the Outstanding High Schools That Work Administrator by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Contact him at tommy_welch@gwinnett.k12.ga.us or follow him on Twitter @PrincipalWelch.

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