If education is designed to teach valuable skills for career and life, the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is working to meet that need at George Washington High School.

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) are an integral part of IPS’ focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE). CTOs are designed to enhance student learning through a focus on contextual instruction, leadership and personal development, applied learning and real-world application.

The goal is for students to build skills that help them get, keep and thrive in their careers, building on classroom instruction through application and engagement. Hands-on demonstrations and real-life work situations and experiences supplement the concepts CTE programs introduce.

“CTSOs really boost the effectiveness of the CTE programs,” said Jennifer Berry, the district’s CTE pathway director. “They help students actually use the skills they will need in their chosen field, and actually put them into practice in a scenario.”

The FBLA helps students at George Washington put into practice some of the business principles they learn in their Business & Finance Academy pathways. As the largest business career student organization in the world, FBLA helps to:

  • Develop competent, aggressive business leadership.
  • Strengthen the confidence of students in themselves and their work.
  • Create more interest in and understanding of American business enterprise.
  • Encourage members in the development of individual projects which contribute to the improvement of home, business and community.
  • Develop character, prepare for useful citizenship, and foster patriotism.
  • Encourage and practice efficient money management.
  • Encourage scholarship and promote school loyalty.
  • Assist students in the establishment of occupational goals.
  • Facilitate the transition from school to work.

FBLA works on both a national and state level to help students prepare for a career in the business world. The organization gives students first-hand experience using business concepts and skills that bring course material within the Business & Finance Academy to life through collaboration, communication with community members, event planning and community service, among other skills and practices.

The chapter at George Washington is a part of the larger organization, which seeks to increase the business acumen of high school students as they transition into college or the business world.

Career Academy Coordinator Gary Carter said the projects and competitions the students work on help them develop additional skills.

“Students design, plan and complete service projects and enter competitions that meet practical community needs and require them to use professional skills that are vitally important to any careers they will pursue in the future,” said Carter.

Students work to compete at the FBLA State Leadership Conference, held in March. If they perform well, they move on to the FBLA National Leadership Conference at the end of June, where students have the opportunity to earn scholarships through FBLA and/or the many sponsors and partners of the organization. There they can compete with other students on their ability to create projects, presentations and reports, engage in speaking events, give presentations, or participate in “role playing” where they go through workplace scenarios.

George Washington’s FBLA chapter formed in November 2018, but the group suffered something of a setback with the departure of John Oliver, the previous mentor of the group. Carter noted that with the fresh start, students and teachers are working to get the group re-established.

While students are disappointed, it does give them an opportunity to experience another reality of the workplace: the departure of a co-worker or supervisor.

“Mr. Oliver’s wife had a great career opportunity in a different state, so he and his family are relocating, Carter said. “But now the group is working with the new officers to create a programming calendar, create bylaws, and decide on activities and projects.”

The program’s potential, however, is limitless, and students, faculty and administrators alike are excited about the opportunities for the next generation of business leaders.

“FBLA has the potential to prepare students for life beyond high school in ways that sitting in a traditional classroom could never do,” Carter said. “FBLA is already igniting passion and changing the direction of students’ lives. At George Washington, this is what we are all about!”