BIGMAC Partnership

Contact: Joe Edwards, Assistant Principal; Gail Lentz, Business Partner Liaison

Menchville’s goal is to create a challenging learning environment consistent with the needs of our school population. Parents, business partners, and community are major resources to help all students succeed. Through surveys, testing, and grant writing, the School Improvement Team identifies Menchville’s goals and priorities. Some of the most successful collaborations between school and community occur through the leadership of BIGMAC, our advisory council.

BIGMAC (Business, Industry, Government, Menchville, Administration, Community) was launched in 1994 as the steering body for a High Schools That Work grant and an effective mechanism for community and business involvement in school improvement. BIGMAC is a strong and effective partnership of:

  • Major employers (Newport News Shipbuilding, CANON, SIEMENS, Virginia Power, Cox Communications)
  • Communications (MCI/Worldcom, Patrick Henry Mall, Ferguson Enterprises, Coca Cola)
  • Elected leaders in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, City Council, and School Board
  • Small businesses (including contractors, professionals, and management consultants)
  • National research labs (Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and NASA-Langley Research Center)
  • City Government (Planning and Development, Police Department, Court Services)
  • New Horizons Regional Education Center
  • Fort Eustis, Fort Monroe TRADOC
  • Higher Education (Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, Thomas Nelson Community College)
  • Parents, community members, teachers, central office personnel and school administrators

Under the leadership of our past chairman, Roger Brown, Senior Regional Property Manager of Patrick Henry Mall, and present chairman, Jay Pruden, Project Manager of CANON, BIGMAC has evolved into a hands-on group which meets quarterly. Members have:

  • Planned and hosted site visits to area businesses and management consultant from Millennium Group, Inc. and MCIWorldCom conducted team-building workshops
  • Helped plan CHOICES, a program funded by the state School-to-Work initiative in 1997 and developed mentorships for 60 students
  • Drafted a three year Technology Plan for Menchville
  • Advised teachers on workplace needs and ways in which students should be better prepared
  • Drafted a concept paper and plan for a Global, Business, Finance, Marketing, and Law Magnet School at Menchville, developing an international focus for the entire school
  • Established action teams to develop curriculum, establish Career Pathways, and infuse employability skills across the curriculum
  • Helped to develop Menchville’s beliefs and mission statement and assists in the development and implementation of the Annual School Improvement Plan
  • Developed a marketing plan for Menchville and the High Schools That Work program
  • Presented workshops at state and national conferences
  • MCI provides training sessions and technology workshops on the internet
  • Provided guest speakers for Career Day, in classes, and faculty meetings
  • Worked with the faculty to integrate academic and vocational curriculum
  • Supported restructuring the school day and going to a 7 period AB Block Schedule
  • Assisted in planning staff development and support for a Professional Development Period during the school day for staff
  • Developed "real-world" problems and connections to businesses to have a greater school- wide focus on making instruction relevant in math, science, social studies, and English
  • Participated in a local government conference featuring Dr. Rosebeth Kanter from Harvard Business School on world class education as part of a global society
  • Focused on improved learning and higher expectations for all students by eliminating the general track
  • Demonstrated advanced technology to teachers, students and the community by having Cox Communications bring the C-SPAN School Bus to Menchville to stress First Vote in ’96
  • Served on panels to hear Senior Project presentations in the spring
  • Furnished monetary incentives for students to work harder and to attend school regularly
  • Supported a Fulbright Grant for study and curriculum development in China

Members identified these as most successful collaborations:

  1. Senior Project – Senior students prepare a written and oral report after extensive research and often mentoring with people in the community; volunteers from the community serve on a panel of judges to hear an oral presentation.
  2. Net Day – Business partners, students, parents, government officials, and our staff wired the school for internet access.
  3. Marketing at the Mall – A marketing class is taught at the local mall. Students then apply for jobs at mall businesses.
  4. Career Search at Thomas Nelson Community College – A field trip is taken by freshmen to TNCC Career Center for help with career searches.
  5. Career Day – Business representatives come to school and teach classes, give demonstrations, and recruit students for jobs.
  6. After Prom – The PTSA sponsors an after prom activity to give seniors a safe place to party. Patrick Henry Mall allows us to use their food court; MCI provides volunteer workers.
  7. BRIDGE – A mentoring program for "at risk" students utilizes teachers, community persons, and staff as advocates.
  8. PULSAR – Newport News Police and teachers sponsor a mentoring program for students who have defied authority.
  9. Professional Development Period during the school day for teachers and staff as a product of Block Scheduling.

Going "public" and taking your program to the community can open your school to constant inspection, but this is not a problem when you passionately believe in what you do and have a vision for what will make young people the most successful. You must identify problem areas and be proactive in the solutions. We have discovered if you go to the community with enthusiasm and seek their input and support you receive far more than you expect. An essential part of this program is networking and establishing relationships with the business community. Our Business Partner Liaison is a member of our staff who stays in close contact with each member. That takes a lot of time and effort with a 70-member group. Getting community support is an ongoing job. We believe Everyone is Menchville High School. All of us carry the message of what we represent.

The council has been in existence for six years and has maintained its membership momentum. The members are loyal and extremely supportive of Menchville making contributions to every aspect of school reform including staff development, technology, and curriculum. BIGMAC is a state model for community partnerships and has been commended by Virginia Tech with a 1999 Excellence in Education Award and a 1997 All Star School Award for Excellence in School-to-Work Planning and Implementation.