Kelly White, Accounting & Finance teacher and Future Business Leaders of America advisor at Hancock County High School, spoke at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast on September 14. The FBLA student officers that attended with her, proudly handed out the brochures that they made themselves.
“People came up after the Chamber of Commerce meeting and asked for the brochure. The students have been working on it for years now, to make it one that they would be proud to give out,” Kelly said. She extends a big thank you to the Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director, Stephanie Lamar, and President, Shanna Nugent. Attending the meetings and connecting with local business owners is a key part of making the local chapter HCHS FBLA a success for students.
“My plan is to take two FBLA officers to the meeting every month and also take members who have proven that they are ready. I want them to see how businesses communicate with one another and how they plan community events that we can be a part of and contribute to,” she said. Kelly and her students have a goal for local businesses to sponsor FBLA financially. Almost all of the other FBLA programs across the counties have local businesses who commit to them financially on a regular basis, she says.
They want this to be as meaningful as possible for the students, and with the financial backing, they can better achieve that. “I have students professionally write letters to businesses and then I edit them and help them come up with something that they are proud of and we send them out,” she said. The letter includes questions, such as: “How do you want to support us?” You can support financially, be a sponsor who regularly attends the meetings and will help provide leadership skill development for students, provide a tour of your business, or have students do some tasks such as administrative and clerical work. “It could be a pay off both ways.”
Also, the donations are tax deductible for businesses
“Students get nervous. They want to get help in how to present a sales pitch, conduct an interview, be interviewed, or to create a professional business letter that will be going out to 150 people. That’s what I focus on, developing those skills and then scheduling everything for them to attend,” Kelly said. “Everything is a business. Whether you work for one or start your own. I try to seek every opportunity, to get the input of leaders.
When we were able to visit Domtar, I asked ‘What do you want us to teach students?’ And over and over again, the answer is Leadership,” she said. They tell her, “We need people who have leadership skills, verbal communication skills, and those who can use spread sheets.”
FBLA is a wonderful program that teaches students professionalism and valuable skills such as public speaking, that will send them into their careers with a competitive edge, no matter what career path they choose. There are National, State and Local Chapters. “The club has grown to about 75 members,” Kelly said.
“The students who want to compete, will be competing at the regional level in February in Bowling Green. If they qualify, they will continue on to compete at the State level competition in April at Louisville, in the Leadership Conference.” This year they have two officers at the regional level, and they are: Samuel Marsh and Will Beckwith. Sam is the Local Chapter Treasurer and he is also going to be the Region 2 Treasurer. Will is the local president and he is going to be their regional reporter.
“On October 15, I will be taking them to the Executive Council Meeting in Bowling Green. This is their first time being officers and they will have the opportunity to meet other regional officers for the first time. They will be planning that event and the local officers will attend that leadership event and learn about their positions and how to perform the duties within those positions,” Kelly said.
There is a formal application that students are filling out to apply for the local chapter officership. They will be interviewed and then will be chosen and put into place and “hopefully they will attend the October 15 event with us,” she said. She is excited to be taking students to the Nationals in San Antonio, Texas for the first time ever, as well.
Kelly is teaching Personal Finance at HCHS as a fourth year math class. There are 143 competitive ends, she says, and personal finance is one of them. This class has turned into a sequence of three. When her students complete that sequence, she’s ready for them to do an internship. And most of them become FBLA officers.
She taught for four years at Breckenridge County. Teaching, she said, is her “second career.” She worked in Restaurant Management for about ten years. She stayed home with her children and did part-time work in Conflict Resolution training at Domtar and Aleris and also helped applicants at the Career Center with math tutoring, to become qualified applicants to the plants in the area.
She earned her teaching certification and started out at HCHS aiding in Math. She has 14 total years of teaching under her belt now; Eight of those years, she has been teaching at HCHS. “When I came here from Breckenridge County, I was assigned to be one of the FBLA Advisors with two others, Candace Cruse and Lori Roberts. Candace moved away and that left Lori and I,” Kelly said.
It has been a challenge to get the program back up and running after the last year.
“Covid made us realize a lot of things; that time is precious. High school students suffered from isolation and thinking that their hopes and dreams were never going to come to fruition. So, now I see that so many kids are joining FBLA. It is very inspiring to me, to catch my second wind and pick this up and go, it helps students at every level,” she said.
By Jennifer Wimmer