A small high school learning community that focuses on finance, economics and business, the Academy of Finance received the top honor in NJSBA’s 28th annual School Leader Award.

The town of Fort Lee, perched on the cliffs near the George Washington Bridge, is not far from the financial centers of Manhattan. The program offered at Fort Lee High School helps bring students even closer to it.

The Academy of Finance (AOF) operates as a school-within-a-school, developed under the National Academy Foundation (NAF) umbrella organization. Academic courses such as Accounting, Business Economics, Financial Services and Business in a Global Economy are offered, aligned to finance, economics, and business. The curriculum is enhanced through trips to major financial centers in the New York area, such as the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ and the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

College and career readiness in all business areas is advocated, and students receive work experience via a mandatory 200-hour summer internship.

A unique aspect of the program is the involvement of the Advisory Board, a group of volunteers who live and work in the Fort Lee community. They are business professionals who use their expertise to help prepare the students for the highly competitive job market. They serve as volunteer speakers in classes, mentor students in preparation of their summer internship and for interviews, and help with resumes and cover letters. They also sponsor special programs that supplement the regular curriculum. Since 2011, the Advisory Board has also hosted a Career Day panel discussion for all students in the AOF program.

The program started with approximately 20 students in 2005, and has grown to include over 90 students in grades 9 through 12. There were 17 graduates from the class of 2014.

Students apply to the academy in eighth grade, and are required to complete an application, write an essay detailing why they want to join the AOF and obtain a letter of recommendation from one teacher. Accepted students take regular core curriculum courses in addition to the AOF courses, which count as electives. Since finance is fundamental to basic knowledge of life skills, students pursuing other areas of study may also enroll in the program.

INFORMATION

Contact: Joseph Finizio, assistant principal, jfinizio@flboe.com

Online:

Recipient of the 2014 School Leader Award

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