HSFPP Stories of Impact
By Rachel Yearby, Math Teacher, Lake Orion, Mich.
Last school year, I was teaching team-taught personal finance class to juniors and seniors. Many of the students did not understand why they were taking the course, or why it was important. It felt like an uphill battle every day to get the students to buy-in and really apply themselves to the content. For example, when teaching the money management unit I had a student constantly arguing that he didn’t need money, didn’t need a budget because he was going to live in his mom’s basement for the rest of his life. After several weeks of trying to convince him that he could have more and the content was important, and applicable to him we had an “ah-ha!” moment.
We had started the borrowing unit and he was convinced that there was nothing wrong with borrowing money over and over without having a plan to pay them back. His argument was, “that’s what my mom does and we just got a new TV that way last week”. A few days later we started to talk about simple interest, this is when he had a change of heart. “Mrs. Yearby! You have to pay them all that extra money when you don’t pay off the credit cards, I didn’t know that!” From this moment on he was a completely different student in my personal finance class. He would ask questions, tell me stories about how he was trying to talk to his mom at home about what we were doing in class, and even asked the bank representative I had in for a lecture to help him open a bank account.
There are many times when teaching the high school curriculum at an alternative education program can seem impossible because many of the students don’t see how they can relate to, or use the content in their futures. Teaching personal finance is a class that I have been very passionate about because I know that the information can help them no matter what their plans are for after high school. The interaction with this student was even more meaningful because he started the class constantly arguing about why it wasn’t applicable to him and had a complete change of heart, and I have hope that this will make him a more financially responsible adult.