In some high schools, students are still learning the principles of economics by following the tradition of textbooks.
At United South High School's Academy for Global Business and Advanced Technology, however, students know that such an approach may not be all that realistic, especially if they aspire to become business owners some day.
In an effort to help these students improve their understanding of how the global economy operates, Texas A&M International University economics professor Dr. Michael Patrick has undertaken the unusual task of traveling weekly to United South High School and teaching the Academy's freshmen a business course.
Once in Dr. Patrick's class, students participate in interactive activities designed to teach them the importance of a free market system, creative problem solving and management skills.
"This course is designed to provide students with a headstart in their preparation to compete successfully in our rapidly changing world of global business and technology," Patrick said.
Patrick, also a member of the Junior Achievement-Laredo board of directors, said he volunteered to teach at the magnet school on behalf of that organization. Junior Achievement is the world's largest and fastest-growing non-profit economic education organization, Patrick said.
"Last year, A&M International's College of Business Administration undertook an initiative, the Youth Entrepreneurship Summer Camp, to complement and augment the efforts of the JA-Laredo program to increase Laredo youth's understanding of free enterprise, business and economics," he explained.
Some of the activities in which Patrick's students participate include solving problems of an imaginary business facing difficulties and developing strategies to market products they wish to sell.
Karen Winch, director of United South High School's academy, said Patrick's class gives students a real-life business experience and an opportunity to make better career choices.
"Business affects everything. This is something that goes across all careers and touches every aspect of life. We want the students to understand the concept of business and, at the same time, become successful in their personal finance," Winch said.
Meanwhile, Patrick's students said they are glad to be in his class and in the academy's business program as a whole.
"It gives you a better understanding of business if you want to start a business," said Joseph Dunivant, adding that he hopes to start a restaurant business some day.
Yajaira Roque, another student, said she enjoys the class because she has the opportunity to learn about marketing strategies and the basic layout of a business.
"You can learn things that you don't get to learn anywhere else," Roque said.
For further information, please call the Office of Public Affairs at 326-2180. University office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.