A hands-on class

Business tech lab offers a chance to work on real-world apps


Grace Ishikawa

Students do everything from laminating copies to making business cards in Debbie Diss’ business tech lab.

What do you picture when envisioning a typical high school class?

Many students may say cramped hands from frantic note taking and headaches from tests that ask questions just out of the memory’s reach, both of which are common education-related ailments. But while everyone will pass plenty of courses that inflict such traditional classroom stress before receiving his or her diploma, Ben Davis also offers a variety of hands-on learning experiences.

Business Technology Lab is one of them, and it is no ordinary high school class.

Taught by Deborah Diss, its environment is more like that of a business than a school. Each student is assigned a job title — such as receptionist or administrative assistant — and is paid in “Diss Dollars,” classroom currency that recipients spend at periodic auctions.

Diss takes over as the instructor to teach Microsoft Office skills but says her students are primarily self-motivated as they complete their daily tasks, including typing, working with Google Drive and copying and laminating documents for staff members.

Experiencing this professional atmosphere and learning business skills in high school helps those enrolled in Business Technology Lab because, as Diss says, “graduates of the class are prepared to go directly into the work force or an internship.”

Her alumni are currently working for companies such as Dow and Alison, the former of which even expanded one internship spot to accept three of Diss’s students.

The most important thing students learn in Business Tech Lab, though, is not copying or filing skills. It is business etiquette, something seemingly simple but unfortunately uncommon in today’s expanse of employees.

Diss says “a newly hired worker can be taught how to do a job, but teaching him or her how to be professional is more difficult.”

As challenging as her job may be, Diss is willing and excited to take on the task.

Students interested in learning more about this class can contact Diss at [email protected]. Ben Davis staff members also are encouraged to contact Diss. The class is open for staff members to use to make business cards, letterhead and most any other Office-related documents that staff members may find useful.