Academy of Finance and Enterprise Principal Victoria Armano says the key to success is a strong sense of community mixed with a healthy dose of business internships.
“We treat our kids like family, like this is a second home,” she told a Daily News reporter during a recent tour of the high school in Long Island City, Queens.
“When you have that type of environment with kids, they feel it,” she said. “Kids feel that you really care, that you really want to guide them to succeed. Parents feel the same way.”
Unlike many other prestigious high schools, Finance and Enterprise does not require students to take an admissions test. Instead, the school offers 15 open houses throughout the fall and winter that allow prospective students to check it out, talk to the faculty and see if they feel the academy is the right fit for them.
Here's the Daily News guide on how to pick the right high school
“I do that to really allow the community to see our school environment,” Armano said. “We have kids coming from all the five boroughs of New York City. We have freshmen, sophomores, juniors presenting the school to the parents.”
The sessions conclude with a meeting with all of the parents.
“I bring (them) to a room and provide them with all the information about what high school is,” Armano said. “What are the things you need to be able to do as a parent to sustain the four years and make sure your children are prepared for college?”
The school remains highly selective.
Marble Hill High School crafts futures for international students
Only 160 of the 2,000 freshman applications were accepted. The academy is small — its current enrollment is 613 students.
For struggling students, there are after-school sessions every Tuesday between 2:40 p.m. and 3:55 p.m. to give the kids and their parents an opportunity to meet with teachers and discuss the issues.
The school also offers job-shadowing programs and paid internships as well as accounting, finance and entrepreneurship classes.
“We want them to see the world they’re going to face,” Armano said.
Risk-taking is key to students' development within NEST+m school
That entails meeting heads of companies to learn what it takes to make it to the top.
“If you want to succeed, you need to start from the bottom, but you will be able to get there,” she said.
Jessica Herrera, a school guidance counselor, said one of the keys to success is how well all the staff works together.
“It’s teamwork,” she said. “We’ve been able to retain our teachers and it’s not a revolving door every year. When we have differences in staff, we talk together and work through our differences. It’s the love that we have for our children that makes it work.”
Brooklyn’s School for Criminal Justice empowers young women
One of the most unique classes the academy offers is the Virtual Enterprise program, which gives students the opportunity to run their own virtual company.
Seniors Brandon Prenz and Entasa Chowdhury are in a class that manages Headstart Advisers, a virtual financial firm that deals with stocks and personal financial literacy for their clients.
The class prepares students for the real world — something the 17-year-olds say gives them confidence and virtual experience that they turn into jobs.
“What I really love about this school is the opportunities that they offer,” Prenz said. “You can get involved in anything from the second you walk through those doors.
De Blasio, Fariña hear parent fears after Bronx school stabbing
“Now as a senior I’ve experienced so much,” he added. “This summer, I got an internship at a high-end general contractor in Manhattan. I got to see really expensive townhouses and penthouses, it was really exciting.”
The older students serve as role models.
“We come in freshmen year and we see some of the successful students and we model to be like them,” Prenz said.
Armano, a 25-year veteran of the Department of Education, has been principal at the academy for six years. She began her career as an elementary school teacher.
Memorial held for high school football player killed in Harlem
“I came to this country at the age of 12,” said the principal, who was born on the U.S. mainland but raised in Puerto Rico. “I saw how hard you have to work to make it, how hard you have to work to succeed academically. Every time I see those kids and I look into their eyes, I think of myself when I was a child coming to this country.
“The same hope, the same drive that I have every day is the same drive that I want our children to have so they can be successful. You want to help them succeed and be energized for a better future.”
- best high schools 2017
- long island city
- new york public schools
- Join the Conversation:
What makes the Academy of Finance and Enterprise the best is their Virtual Enterprise class, as well as the outstanding business program. I can see passion in the teachers. I see that they love what they do and they want to see their students become very successful with all the training they have. In Virtual Enterprise, we run virtual companies but we act as if it's the real thing. We do actual work, trading, cold calling, sales, advertising and so much more! Virtual Enterprise feels like an actual company and we train employees on how the real world companies work. This has become one of my favorite classes because we always have unexpected turns and it is fun to figure out what we can do to solve things like that. Besides our Virtual Enterprise class, our school is known for its strong business program. The school offers classes such as Entrepreneurship, Managerial Accounting, Business Ethics and so much more. This school really trains the students to become more financially literate. Overall, this school has one of the best business programs that anyone would ever want to be in.