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Educators attend training program in Calif.

July 14, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Three South Hagerstown High School teachers and an administrator traveled last week to Anaheim, Calif., where they attended a four-day training program and heard a speech by President Clinton.

Business teachers David Asher, Sondra Musser and Sherry Albin attended the National Academy Foundation's 15th annual staff development institute in preparation for a financial academy to be offered at South High beginning in the fall.

"It was an excellent seminar, one of the best I've ever attended," Musser said Tuesday.

An academy is a special course of study geared toward a job in a specific field. The program is intended to better prepare students for college or careers.

"When these kids graduate from the academy, they'll be ready for the work force," said Ike M. Williams, school to career education coordinator. "I think it will spur some students on to furthering their education."

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As South High's assistant principal, Williams said, he helped create the school's academy and rearrange its schedule. The Washington County Board of Education promoted Williams while he was attending the conference in California.

The National Academy Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. In 1982, it started a business partnership in a Brooklyn, N.Y., high school to prepare students for the financial services industry.

The foundation expanded into other schools and grew to include travel and tourism. It now has 350 academies in 37 states serving 26,000 students. Another 20,000 students have graduated. In conjunction with President Clinton's visit it kicked off a new program, the information technology academy.

The foundation provides the curriculum and training for its programs and schools pay a one-time startup fee of $5,000. Citicorp Credit Services supported the finance academy at South High with a $15,000 donation to the School Board.

South High's business teachers left for the institute July 6. For four days afterward, they picked sessions from a menu of topics such as Federal Reserve curriculum, financial planning, stock brokers and risk management.

They also spoke to other teachers and administrators who have academies in place as well as those whose programs are just getting started, Musser said.

South High's curriculum had to be upgraded for the academy, but it will not offer new courses, Williams said. The business teachers will give courses such as keyboarding, accounting, business law and economics.

"They are teaching some of the old material but it's in a new way," Williams said.

The academy is open to juniors in the fall. Next summer, successful students will get paid internships at local businesses such as Citicorp Credit Services. In their senior year, academy students will take higher-level courses at Hagerstown Community College.

Musser said academies are an emerging trend that will benefit students. "This is the wave of the future," she said. "I think it's the right thing to do for our kids."

The institute inspired South High's teachers, according to Musser.

"I think it's given us some confidence," she said. "We all came away uplifted."

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