By: Bill O’Connell, THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Swanton Seven, a program in its first year at Swanton Middle School (SMS), was implemented, in part, to teach students certain skills that are vital to their future success but not necessarily a part of the normal curriculum.
These life skills include effective listening, good conversational abilities, using manners, choosing to work hard, supporting and respecting others, honesty and accountability and taking pride in oneself.
To help reinforce these principles and show the students how valuable they are, SMS Assistant Principal Leigh Pancoast decided to bring the eight graders into the business world where an effective application of these lessons truly impact the success of that business. McNeill Chevrolet and Buick, located on Airport Highway in Swanton was the first local business that stepped up to help.
“What’s more beneficial than having real people tell them when they get out in the real world, this is what its going to be like,” explained Ms. Pancoast. “McNeill’s was the first company to jump on board and they have taken our seven principles and put them into action. Its awesome that they were willing to work with us.”
Organized by McNeill’s Controller Linda Lee, the eighth-grade class was split into four groups of approximately 25 students each. Each group visited the dealership on different days where they were further divided into five smaller groups, one for each “education station”. At each station, McNeill employees talked about their job and explained how they used the seven principles.
“We had two stations in our Sales Department, one which was a ‘Meet and Greet’ where it was explained how to interact properly with customers with good eye contact, listening to their needs and anticipating what they want,” said Ms. Lee. “The second sales station taught similar things like looking for the customers’ needs and what they need in a vehicle and how to present yourself and your product to the customers and how these Swanton Seven Principles pull through into these characteristics.”
The third station was in Service where it was explained to the students the importance of being a responsible car owner by taking care of your car and how to treat the customer with respect and respecting their property and their time with integrity. They were also shown how the parts department was organized to quickly find what was needed to service the customer as soon as possible.
The office area was the fourth station where the focus was on the importance of good clear and concise writing skills including proper grammar, punctuation and accurate spelling. The students were encouraged to be very professional in their written communications, respect people’s titles and never use text language which can sometimes be a challenge in today’s digital world.
The fifth and final station concentrated on financing a vehicle and may have been the most eye-opening for the eighth-graders. They were introduced to the concept of credit scores and how those scores affect what vehicle can be purchased using credit. “Budgeting was also discussed with them and how it is really important to have a budget, to stick to it and protect your credit score,” said Ms. Lee.
All five stations ran concurrently and the students completed the cycle in approximately 90 minutes. The employees at each station, in explaining how they perform the job, made sure to demonstrate how the Swanton Seven Principles were applied and how they are the key to achieve success.
Bill may be reached at email@example.com
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