Firm handshakes, eye contact, marketing and communication skills are just some of the things Texas Regional Bank looks for in a potential employee.
Those skills, are what Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy teachers hope to tie back to the classroom as part of the Classroom Connections component of the Heroes for Harlingen program, which pairs local business leaders with teachers to share their real world experiences.
“One of our goals is to help students develop their communication skills,” said Ana Armendariz World Geography teacher. “As freshmen, our kids are at the age where they want to internalize everything but they need to learn how to vocalize what it is that is good about them. Essentially, they need to learn how to promote themselves. As future business leaders, having confidence, poise, and the ability to clearly demonstrate your vision and character are valuable skills.”
The externships, in their second year, are experiential learning opportunities that allow teachers to shadow employee volunteers as they walk through day-to-day routines at a company or organization.
Michele Robinson, Senior Vice President at TRB, talked to Cano Business & Industry Endorsement teachers about the day-to-day operations of each department within the bank, stressing the importance of accountability.
“I think it’s important to interact and bring things that are real life into the classroom it helps kids relate and it puts things in perspective,” said Robinson. “The things they are learning in school every day, like math, really are useful beyond high school.”
Robinson shared with teachers that each person in the bank has a responsibility to fulfill in order to be effective, loan officers look at a person’s financial standing before approving loans; tellers need to make sure that their drawer balances out; compliance officers ensure that the bank is adhering to federal regulations.
“I think that by exploring what this industry has to offer, students will recognize their personal accountability and that their actions have consequences,” said Armendariz. “There are also really good things that can happen when you work hard but they have to maintain that responsibility.”
Kelly Cotton, Audio Visual/ Graphic Design teacher, wants this experience to show her students that learning is endless.
“I just think it’s really important for our kids to see that we are learning something new as teachers,” said Cotton. “We’ve already got some years in our career and we are still learning. We are showing them that learning is a lifelong process.”
At the end of the year, students will produce a cumulative project based on information that their teachers taught them from the externship.
Business & Industry Endorsement students will work on a project that will attempt to solve a problem. They will pitch their ideas to community members much in the style of the television program “Shark Tank.”
Additional components of the Heroes for Harlingen program include Ambassadors for learning, a program that allows community partners to hold discussions with administrators at HCISD, and Caring for Kids, which aims to identify the needs of students through community partnerships.