Richland Two students across the district are saying goodbye to the summer and gearing up to return to school. However, for four Spring Valley High School (SVHS) students and one recent graduate, this summer break was more than an opportunity to relax, it was a chance to flex their inner mogul.
Through a partnership between the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) and McWaters, a Columbia furniture supply retailer, the district offered a summer satellite course that focused on the practical aspects of managing and sustaining a successful commercial furniture sales company.
The course, which met at McWaters, explored many facets of operating a business, including the core business model, management of operations, marketing, finance, and human resources. Students also researched the level of education and skill sets required to pursue positions in these fields.
According to course instructor Jo Harland, students are learning how to be successful entrepreneurs and the business specific skills that most adults learn later in college or on the job.
“This has been a wonderful learning opportunity for our students. McWaters has been very
supportive of the class and provided a wealth of information for our students,” said Harland, who teaches career prep English at Ridge View High School.
The course, which began in June, culminated the first week of August with a final “Shark Tank” style presentation during which students attempted to convince a panel of judges to invest in their business plan. For the presentation, SVHS students William Harris, Caleb Hughes and Cameron Smith each pitched quiet space workplace designs; Wesley Bright focused on sales and marketing for learning labs; and recent SVHS graduate Geoffrey Maxberry highlighted software that can assist with accounting. The panel had a tough decision selecting from all the outstanding presentations but in the end William Harris’ quiet space workplace design won over the judges.
“All of the students showed remarkable growth in their understanding of the different components that go into the long term success of a business,” said Jessica Koumas who oversees business relations for McWaters. “The experiences from this summer’s classes were fantastic and we are looking forward to working with Richland Two and R2i2 in the future.”
Richland Two and McWaters are able to offer students this summer long immersive experience as part of partnerships that have emerged from the district’s R2i2 initiative. R2i2, which will open to high school students across the district in 2016, focuses on preparing students for the workplace, certification programs and/or higher education in order to meet workforce needs in the Midlands and throughout the state. Through R2i2, the district will continue to work with regional business partners and colleges and universities to provide learning opportunities that are dynamic and constantly evolving to follow industry trends and market changes.