File photo by Edward Osinski

Harper Woods Schools searching for members for new Corporate Advisory Board

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published February 2, 2018

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods Public School District is taking a new step with the formation of a Corporate Advisory Board. 

The board will consist of local business leaders who will advise the district on ways in which to better support student achievement and advancement. The board members will guide career pathway initiatives, multi-level engagement, skill set preparation, program demands and apprenticeship programs in regard to students’ post-high school options.

“The Corporate Advisory Board will consist of members from local businesses and district partners interested in developing our Harper Woods Promise program,” explained Sydnie Bland, the district’s parent liaison and community relations manager. “Our main focus is ensuring our students are college- and job-ready, and we are doing this by focusing on career and technical education programs such as veterinary sciences, engineering and computer programming. We also want them to have the available financial assistance for going to college as well.

“The board members will distinguish how we will use the funds for the educational scholarship and improve our career pathway program.”

The Harper Woods Promise is a program set up by the school district that allows the district to pay for students’ post-high school tuition needs, provided that students attended the district from kindergarten to 12th grade and met a certain GPA standard.

“The Corporate Advisory Board will help guide the process for job-preparation-related courses and programs, and working with industry and universities,” said Superintendent Steven McGhee. “They will see what sort of coursework students will need, what kind of funds are available and where they (will) be best utilized, and who we can work with to help us prepare students.”

The board is tentatively scheduled to meet once every three months at Harper Woods High School.

“The students will benefit because it’s important the community invests in our students,” said Bland. “At the end of the day, whether we want to accept it or not, our students are our future leaders, and we need to invest in them, and showing them we support them and providing them with mentors is one of the best ways to do that.”

Bland said one of the main focuses of the new board will be to shepherd the district through the process of expanding extracurricular programs meant to provide new occupational and educational pathways for students.

“Right now our CTE programs are electives, so they are during the school day,” she said. “We are looking to add on to those school day programs, but we are looking at after-school mentoring and educational programs, and working with universities to partner with to help form programs to help with the transition between high school and college.”

Those interested in potentially joining the board can contact Bland at or at (313) 220-6188. There is a meet-and-greet planned on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the high school as well.

“We are looking at individuals from a variety of areas. Not just health or STEM field areas, but we also want partners in design, for instance,” said Bland. “We know not every student will go to college, but we want them to be equipped when they graduate and to at least have some type of trade skill. At this point, our main goal is to find interested parties to be on the board. We also will have subcommittees for things like fundraising and event planning. We aren’t sure how many people we want on this board yet.”

The Corporate Advisory Board was first suggested by McGhee, and McGhee has since been the chief proponent for creating the new body.

McGhee said it is vitally important that the community play an active role in the education of children. He hopes many people will get involved with the Corporate Advisory Board, and that those who can’t will consider helping in other ways, such as volunteering to tutor or mentor students, providing beneficial activities to help guide youths, or contributing to the Harper Woods Promise.

“The reasons (forming this board) is so important is because it’s a projection of economics and job development, and is a different way of looking at how we are educating our children. I wanted to stress preparation for the job market for our students in the 21st century,” he remarked. “It’s a collaborative process, and I would love to have all hands on deck when it comes to college and career preparation, and all of our community stakeholders have a role to play in that.”