Kansas City, Mo A new school that opened this fall at a Jackson County mall gives students the opportunity to learn business techniques in a real-world setting.
A similar school also opened this fall at Towne East Square in Wichita, Kan.
The Jackson County program was the first mall school in Missouri. Students from the Blue Springs, Independence, Fort Osage, Oak Grove and Grain Valley school districts attend the school at Independence Center five days each week for part of the day.
Students learn several business techniques, such as how to set up that first office and how to communicate in the business world.
The schools are a collaborative effort between school districts and the Simon Youth Foundation, a division of Simon Property Group, which absorbs the cost of mall space. The school districts supply the curriculum.
Most mall schools are for students who have difficulty adjusting to the traditional classroom, but students at Jackson County's school must maintain a 2.5 grade-point average or better and have good conduct.
Wichita's mall school is for high school dropouts, said Arny Bereson, director of the Simon Foundation. Dropouts are contacted and persuaded to enroll in the mall school, where they get instruction toward high school diplomas.
Ninety students enrolled in Wichita's program, but only 14 are in the Jackson County class. About 40 are expected next year.
"This year not many students were aware of the program at the time of registration," teacher Carol Bolin said. "This class takes up a lot of time, and takes time away from some other things that seniors might want to be involved in."
In nine-week internships next spring, each student in the Jackson County program will work with the manager of a mall business.