Rock Star Educator’s Name:
Raymond High School, Raymond, NH
Years as Teacher:
Sports & Entertainment Marketing
Making Money Matter
Mike is a strong advocate for teens learning the importance of making sound financial decisions from an early age. Growing up in a time where parents never spoke of money issues with their kids, and where the subject was not taught in schools led him to make decisions that he regretted in the future. The old saying “if I only knew then what I do now” resonates within him which serves as his motivation to teach the youth of his community about the impact that their actions will have on their future life.
State Financial Education Requirement
The State of New Hampshire requires all public high school students to pass an economics class before graduating. In accordance with NH Curriculum Frameworks standard SS:EC:6, “students will be able to explain the importance of money management, spending, credit, saving, and investing in a free market economy.” To achieve this, personal finance is built into the economics curriculum, but obviously cannot be as encompassing as a stand alone course.
Called to Teach
Mike has always enjoyed working with young people. During his high school years he was honored by his local CYO as recipient of their Volunteer of the Year award for his efforts. Working at a summer camp for almost a decade further displayed his abilities to work with kids and create a comfortable environment to learn and grow in. While in college majoring in business he was helping a few of his fellow students prepare for an exam when they made a comment that he should go into teaching because he had a comfortable way of explaining topics in terms that people could easily understand. So he made the switch, became a business education major, won his college’s department award at graduation, and hasn’t looked back since!
Mike is a fan of switching up resources every few years, not just for the kids but also for himself. He doesn’t want his teaching to become routine and boring, so the challenge is to find new ways to find excitement in what we do. As he likes to point out to his students, the average person works about 100,000 hours in their lifetime. Who wants to be bored for that long? Teaching in the 80’s and 90’s was mostly about textbooks. In the 2000’s Mike shifted over to project based learning where the kids researched topics he provided and they taught each other through personal finance fairs. The 2010’s allowed more web-based lessons to be taught, and the Jump$tart website was a huge resource. He loves to supplement his lessons with YouTube videos that are both educational and entertaining. The NEFE High School Financial Planning Program has been a hit with kids, as has the Financial Football and Soccer Games created by Visa. Mike is also a big fan of Dave Ramsey, and loves to use his Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum in his classroom.
At the end of each semester, he has all of his personal finance kids take the W!se national, standardized Financial Literacy Certification Test. He feels that this program is very beneficial because the test results legitimize the accomplishments of his students and demonstrates that they actually do have the skills necessary to be successful in the future if they act accordingly. Over the years he has had a couple kids achieve a perfect score, and has even had years where 100% of his students pass the exam.
Mike began teaching business education at a private school in Vermont in the late 80’s. He was part of a department of three, and focussed on marketing and entrepreneurship. At the time, personal finance was still still in the background, and he even remembers having a conversation with his students about this new technology called a debit card, where people would no longer need to carry cash or checks and could simply use this to pay for purchases at the point of sale. Kids were fearful of this initially because they thought that losing this card would mean someone could steal all of their money! Through this conversation, Mike realized that discussing current trends in the world of personal finance would need to become part of his curriculum. So he implemented weekly current events in his classroom that the students would complete to understand the changing world around them. This has led to many great conversations over the years and allows the kids to see outside of the four walls of the classroom.
After moving to New Hampshire and settling into a new system, Mike approached his administration about creating a new course to teach personal finance. Seeing the value in this suggestion, he received the green light, and his classes have been filled ever since. He even started a financial literacy club at his school more than a decade ago to compete in state tournaments, and his kids are currently the reigning champs of the Jump$tart Coalitions’s Financial Capability Challenge for the State of New Hampshire!
In the past, Mike was named as a New Hampshire Jump$tart Business teacher of the year, and gives credit to those that work hard advocating for more financial literacy in our schools. He would like to single out Director of Professional Development Dan Hebert, and Financial Foundations Program Consultant Suzann Knight for all they have done for their home state of New Hampshire. Their tireless work over the years in creating a culture of respect for what we do makes everyone in the profession proud. And their efforts, along with the rest of the coalition team, to bring us high quality national conferences every year definitely recharges our batteries and gives us motivation to keep bringing our subject to the kids.
When the students enter his classroom on the first day of the semester, Mike tells them the same thing that most personal finance teachers say to their kids. That this will be the most important class that they will take. Not because it offers some higher order of learning, more so than any other subject that they could have signed up for, but rather because it presents rational thought that can lead to an understanding of the behaviors necessary to secure their financial future. Whether they make $30,000 a year or $300,000, these behaviors are a must. And growing up in the excess of the 80’s when financial literacy was in the background, he is proud to teach a subject that should be at the top of every student’s “To Take” list. “It is easier to prevent a wreck than it is to fix the damage, so let’s teach these kids financial responsibility and watch them ride off into the sunset successfully.”