Manatee High students get a lesson in business

eearl@bradenton.comMarch 2, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Developing marketing strategies, scheduling appointments with clients, and printing auto insurance quotes has become part of the daily school routine for Manatee High students.

And it's a routine that could reap rewards for the students who take their "jobs" seriously.

The students, most of them seniors in an on-the-job training curriculum, are participating in an eight-week program designed to educate them about insurance plans, coverage, deductibles, and policy rating. InVest (insurance vocational education student training) is in its eighth year of teaching Manatee County high schoolers about personal finances and the insurance trade.

During the course, students are charged with creating their own auto insurance companies, complete with distinct logos and business cards. They are responsible for scheduling appointment times with other students and adult community members to rate insurance policies and print out quotes.

They also learned the factors that affect the cost of premiums.

They are required to come to class in proper business attire.

Phillip Baker, vice president of Boyd Insurance, said their classroom experience is a realistic snapshot of the jobs in the field. Progressive Insurance gave students an Agents Only sign-in code for their website that students can use in class. "They are working with real numbers that are live," Baker said. "This is real world experience."

The program is integrated into both Manatee and Palmetto high schools accounting classes and is sponsored by the Manatee County Independent Insurance Agents, including Boyd Insurance and BB&T Wyman Green and Blalock.

It is incorporated into an accounting class made up of on-the-job training students who divide their schedule between school and a job.

"This is one of the most practical things the school has been involved in," said accounting teacher Dennis Stallard.

The students will take a field trip to the commercial insurance group FCCI in Lakewood Ranch to get a closer look at how an agency is run.

"They will be dealing with insurance for the rest of their lives, so it is important that they know how to make educated decisions about it," said Christiaan Huth, vice president of insurance services at BB&T.

Manatee County Independent Insurance Agencies raised $9,000 to offer the programs free to students at Palmetto and Manatee high schools.

Part of the budget includes team and individual cash awards givens to students at a breakfast at the end of the program.

The cash awards are based on the companies the students' create and the creativity behind the and the students' cohesiveness and business success, There also will be awards for the top producing "agents."

"It is great to see them embracing it. They have really taken hold of this program and owned it," Huth said.

Huth also said that the ability to understand and explain the insurance process has given students confidence.

Senior Daniel Morrison said that this class has made him more conscious of his spending.

The class included a portion dedicated to making personal budget plans, calculating take-home pay, and practicing job interviews.

"It is important to know where your money is going and where it is coming from," said student Trey Horne.

Friday was the last simulation day of the course. By the end of the semester, students will present their final portfolios and spreadsheets before completing the course with the agency tour. Students also will be required to write a 500-word essay about the program.

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