Insperity, GrowthForce and the Houston CPA Society (HCPAS) recently joined forces to help the Kingwood High School (KHS) honors accounting program in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
KHS remains closed for the entire school year due to Harvey's flood damage. As a result, Kingwood students are attending Summer Creek High School on a half-day basis.
Students throughout the region will feel the impact for many months. However, Harvey's devastation has been particularly challenging for Kingwood accounting teacher Laura Abel. Upon moving her classroom from Kingwood to Summer Creek, Abel determined that she had only 22 working computers to teach a record 220 students enrolled in the KHS honors accounting course. In addition, she noted that some of those laptops would not hold a charge long enough to get through the shortened school day.
"While I am ecstatic for the increased interest in our honors accounting program, I am very concerned that the progress of the educational process is hindered when the students do not have reliable computers to work on every day," Abel wrote in a letter to the HCPAS, a chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs.
In response, CPAs Helping Schools, a committee of HCPAS, joined forces with two Kingwood-based businesses, Insperity and GrowthForce, to make a $15,000 contribution to the Humble Independent School District (Humble ISD) to obtain additional computers and other critical supplies to help support the honors accounting program.
A check presentation was held on Oct. 2 at Insperity's corporate headquarters in Kingwood. Pictured in the accompanying photo from left to right are: Mohan Kuruvilla, HCPAS president-elect/University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business; Sheila Enriquez, HCPAS president/Briggs & Veselka; Jennifer Poff, HCPAS executive director; Kristin Chavira, KHS accounting teacher; Dr. Ted Landry, KHS principal; Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, Humble ISD superintendent; Jay Mincks, Insperity executive vice president of sales and marketing; Laura Abel, KHS accounting teacher and Stephen King, GrowthForce CEO. Students from the Kingwood High School honors accounting program surround the check presenters and recipients.
This is not the first time the Houston CPA Society has come to the assistance of the KHS accounting program. When the program was in jeopardy of folding due to lack of student participation, the Houston chapter was instrumental in lobbying the Texas Education Agency for a pilot curriculum that offered honors credit to participating students. As a result in 2011, Kingwood became the first high school in the state with an honors accounting program.
More students are now selecting accounting as an elective due in part to the higher grade point level of an honors course. What is also fueling the demand for the course is the mandate by the Texas Legislature, which required high school students to select a career pathway starting in 2014-2015. Business is one of the tracks with accounting falling in that track.
"Kingwood was one of the first schools we reached out to after the storm due to their accounting honors program," said Jennifer Poff, HCPAS executive director. "The Houston CPA Society is dedicated to assisting schools in our local area that have been affected by Hurricane Harvey through our CPAs Helping Schools grant program."
Poff notes that it is critical for the future of the accounting profession for the organization to reach out to middle school and high school students to get them interested in accounting programs and eventually become CPAs.
Insperity is another organization with a history of community service. When the company was founded more than 31 years ago, giving back to the communities where employees live and work became a cornerstone of the company's values. As part of this commitment, Insperity has supported several Humble ISD initiatives that are focused on helping students succeed.
"As a company that helps small businesses, Insperity is excited to encourage future entrepreneurs by supporting the KHS accounting program that teaches students the language of business," said Jay E. Mincks, Insperity executive vice president of sales and marketing.
GrowthForce CEO Stephen King agrees with that vision. In 2013, when he was chairman of the Northeast Satellite Committee of the HCPAS, King helped spearhead a pilot program, which prepares accounting teachers to instruct at an honors level. As a result of initiating an honors accounting program, GrowthForce now hires KHS accounting honors students as interns, allowing them to have real-world exposure to the accounting profession.
As past chair of the HCPAS strategic planning committee, King says KHS's success has led to the organization's interest in expanding high school honors accounting across Houston through CPAs Helping Schools.
He says that persuading high schools to offer honors accounting courses is also on the strategic agenda of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In support, the AICPA recently donated 30 accounting e-textbooks to KHS, as one of the success stories for this nationwide program.
"The plan is to find more CPAs to teach high school honors accounting, so we can replicate what we did at KHS at another school in Humble ISD," King states. "Ultimately, we believe that teaching accounting early will increase the number of successful entrepreneurs and develop new CPAs to serve them. We are working hard to increase the number of young people going into accounting, and it starts in high school."