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FedEx Blog

Students get real-world global lessons from FedEx

January 31, 2012

The International Business Academy is a unique program, tailored for students who are interested in pursuing a career in business.  This year, we were looking for a company who would be willing to work with, assist, educate, and inspire our students. We found that, and more, in FedEx.

One of the key benefits in this relationship was the hands-on, real-world application that the students received.  This was such an invaluable lesson that we, the teachers, would never have been able to do alone. It is easy for us to explain the business world, give examples, and talk about it, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to participate in it first hand. It took our curriculum to a level that our students have never experienced.

One of the most impressionable events was having Erika Tolar and Rick Siciliano walk the students through an actual earnings call.  This activity had a true lasting impression, as it spurred many questions and conversations about the impact that one company can have on the global economy.  For ninth graders, their world is still very small, and this started to broaden it for them.

Another great experience was our field trip to the airport, where the students were able to actually step on the planes, see how packages are shipped, and consult with employees. The students talked about this trip for weeks afterwards, and were able to refer back to that experience in other projects that followed. 

Since 14-15 year olds have such a limited view of the world, I am often faced with the question “Why do we have to learn this?” or “When will I ever use this again?”  The Diverse Appeal, Access Magazine, and FedEx Annual Report allowed the students to peruse different types of expository writings, and see how they apply to the business world. These are periodicals that they would normally not pick up to read, but has opened their eyes to a more mature, practical use.  Now, if I ever get those questions, all I have to say is “Remember FedEx?” and they get it.

Finally, the most impressive, meaningful experience was the Personal Branding seminar from Laurie Tucker. The teachers were inspired by the speech, but more importantly the kids were captivated.  As a follow up, we had the students complete the Personal Branding Exercise.  It was an eye-opening, humbling, and confirming experience for many to find out what the people in their lives really thought about them.  In fact, for the weeks that followed, the kids would catch one another doing or saying something inappropriate and say, “Is that really the brand you want?”  Or they would see a classmate do something positive, and I’d hear them say “Nice branding!”  It is truly amazing what an excellent character building exercise that was.

All in all, our experience with FedEx was an invaluable one that continues to impact the students.  Even though the project has wrapped itself up, the knowledge they have gained is something that will continue to enrich their education.  I see bright futures for these kids, and perhaps even future FedEx team members!  


    La'Quesha Grigsby says:

    A special thanks to Erika and Rick who did a fantastic job facilitating this learning experience. I must say that I was most excited about the opportunity to hear Ms. Tucker speak on personal branding as this was a topic that the students were introduced to in my class on the 1st day of school. I also enjoyed seeing the helmet designs that the students created for Denny Hamlin’s NASCAR helmet contest. It allowed me to see a more creative side that I don’t usually get to see.

    This was a phenomenal opportunity for our students and I look forward to the continued partnership with FedEx. Thank you FedEx for allowing us ‘Access’.

    Erika Tolar says:

    All I can say is WHAT AN EXPERIENCE I had working with such an amazing group of teachers and students at Klein Forest High School. It all started from an old college friend of mine, Kim Sharp, asking to borrow a FedEx t-shirt and FedEx “decor” for her classroom to jazz up her classroom for their freshman international business academy (IBA) focus on FedEx. What came from that was much more than just a t-shirt :). From the original brainstorming session(s) I had with the teachers to the FedEx Express IAH ramp tour, marketing campaign slogan designs, personal branding seminar by our very own Laurie Tucker, and debrief of our FY12Q1 earnings call….the students (and teachers) now know that FedEx is waaaay more than just overnight packages!

    One of the most creative concepts I found very intriguing was using the FedEx Global Citizenship report, Access magazine, and Diverse Appeal magazine as “textbooks” for the students. Such great real-world, hands-on experience to apply in each of the classrooms. I can offically say that thanks to Jesus, the biology teacher, I will never look at the “life cycle of a FedEx package” in the same way….his idea to map the process a package goes through (from shipment processing to the final destination delivery) to how enzymes break down in the human body is a true testament to how FedEx can be applied (very creatively) to the learning environment in almost any situation!

    Also, a BIG shot out and thank you to Elizabeth Finch, VP Sales/MEIA for FedEx Express on our sales team in India and Luis Gomez, Sales Executive along our US/Mexico border who brought the cultural experience of living and doing business in India and Mexico into the social studies class via a Wiki blog….wow, how technology played an integral part of making this class project truly hands-on, real-world, and real-time.

    Finally, I echo Ms. Grigsby’s comments on Laurie Tucker, SVP Marketing for FedEx Services who delivered an empowering, impactful message on the power of personal branding and how each student should work to build and maintain their own brand, much like FedEx does on a daily basis.

    I am so proud to have represented FedEx with Rick Siciliano (Solutions Analyst for FedEx and my partner in crime on this social responsibility project) – what an amazing company we are fortunate to work for that allows us the flexibility to develop a grassroots effort like this to bring FedEx into the classroom and engrain our brand and all that we stand for in the lives of students and teachers.

    I look forward to staying in touch with the students as they progress through high school and the faculty and staff at Klein Foest High School International Business Academy (IBA). And if you were to walk up to anyone at KFHS associated with the FedEx project, I guarantee you if you were to ask “What is FedEx?” they would respond with one resounding word: ACCESS! To learn more about Access, check out our Global Citizenship Report (GCR) at

    I Am FedEx!

    Christine Wulff says:

    First of all, What a wonderful career builder for the students at Internation Business Academy! Erika (Wulff) Tolar, this is truly awesome!! Your Mom and Dad couldn’t be more proud of you and your expertise, kmowledge and love for the company you work for, FedEx. Sharing this with the youth of today is an outstanding way for them to get a glimpse of the “real world” and all the opportunities there are to reach out and grow. I know you are happy and proud to have been a part of these students gaining knowledge in the business world. Your Masters in Global Management has paid off… with much more to come!!! Love you much!

    Dennis Shirokov says:

    Great use of video in the story. Thanks for sharing!

    Brandon Lee Tidwell says:

    Great work FedEx! It’s an amazing story of corporate America investing in the future and sharing with students the power of a globalized world.

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