Strictly business: Teacher Education grad takes hands-on approach at Tec-Voc

KAthleen Mira, Tec-Voc High School

Kathleen Mira is taking care of business.

A graduate of Red River College’s Business/Technology Teacher Education program, Mira has taught at Technical Vocational High School in Winnipeg’s West End since 1999.

Mira has taught it all at Tec-Voc, from computer and software applications to accounting principles and systems to retailing, promotions and entrepreneurship, and everything in between. She says her time at RRC prepared her well for the multi-faceted and ever-changing world of business.

“You have to be versatile in this position. You have to be able to adapt to change,” Mira says. “We offer at Tec-Voc the full gamut of the business curriculum. Working here, I’ve had to be very versatile. I have to be able to turn my brain on for accounting, shut if off, then turn it on for marketing, shut if off, and then turn it on for entrepreneurship. You have to be able to change on a dime.”

Speaking of dimes (and nickels, quarters and loonies), Mira also operates Tec-Voc’s school store, Stingers, where students get real-life experience in a retail setting.

“It gives students hands-on experience that they normally wouldn’t get because of their age,” Mira says of the store, the name of which is a nod to Tec-Voc’s athletics teams, the Hornets.

“We have a point of sale system. [Students] scan items, they cash out, they cash in, they do inventory, they stock shelves, all those fun things. It’s like any other retail environment.”

The practical applications of Tec-Voc’s business programs don’t stop there.

“Being the accounting nerd that I am, I really wanted to start a credit union here at the school,” Mira says.

“We are in a partnership with Assiniboine Credit Union. We started that in December 2014, and it’s an awesome program where my accounting students can operate as member service representatives — or as many people know them, tellers. They get some hands-on experience developing those skills, so accounting is not just boring stuff every single day, they’re actually doing something.”

Stingers Credit Union offers such services as membership and account openings, student chequing and savings, direct deposit and member card services.

“It is [a full-fledged financial institution]” Mira said. “I mean it’s pretty simplified, we don’t do loans simply because the kids are underage, but they do deposits and withdrawals and membership creation. We talk about customer service. They get privacy training. They get training in identifying counterfeiting.”

“We thought [the credit union] would be a good thing for the school just because of the area we’re in. We’re in what could be considered the core and a lot of students don’t have financial literacy skills. They’re underbanked, meaning they don’t have bank accounts and they don’t know anything about them. We want to make sure that is a part of their life experience starting today.”

The partnership with Assiniboine Credit Union earned the Chair’s Global Best Partnership Award at the International Partnership Network conference in Oslo, Norway earlier this year.

But Mira says her greatest reward is seeing her students succeed in life.

“I’ve had students that have pursued their CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant), students that have gone into human resource management, students that work in the financial industry and different retail positions, as well,” she says.

“Our main goal is getting these kids somewhere in life, whether it be directly employed out of high school or to further their business studies.”

Learn more about RRC’s Teacher Education Business program.

— Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)