Hi Jump$tart! A little about me…
I have been teaching for 20 years, with the past 18 in De Pere, Wisconsin which is now home for my family. De Pere is a suburb of Green Bay, and like Aaron Rodgers says that he wants to retire a Packer, I hope to retire a Redbird.
I am certified to teach both Business and Biology (shout out to Diane Mondoro as the only other teacher I know with this combination!). For the past several years, I have been able to be full-time business, teaching Personal Finance, Marketing Essentials, and Microsoft Office classes. Personal Finance is definitely my passion and my favorite class to teach. Seeing students connect to a subject that is so relevant is what makes it my favorite. I originally planned to pursue a degree in Environmental Science (hence the biology certification), but once I started helping coach my high school’s Business Professionals of America group, I fell in love with helping high school students. Now, full circle, I am proud to have served as an FBLA advisor for all of my years of teaching.
In my first 20 years, I have found that personal stories and my corny sense of humor help keep kids engaged in class. Many parents are afraid to admit financial mistakes to their children, so I share mine. Students see my pay stub, my retirement account, and my credit score. It is also important to share the idea that making financial mistakes does not make you a bad person. We are all trying our best, and when we know better, we usually do better. No one is above anyone else, so learn what you can, share that knowledge and don’t judge.
Wisconsin does not YET have a Personal Finance requirement, but I have been part of a team advocating for this change in Madison. I was honored to testify before the Education Committee of the Assembly, along with fellow teachers Patrick Kubeny and his students, Laura Schoenike and her students, and Jump$tart’s Joel Chrisler, in February. We faced some major opposition at the start of our presentation, but I think it was the voice of the students who had the biggest impact which changed several minds. The Committee voted it to the Assembly Floor, but the legislative session ran out of time, so we will be tackling it again this winter. What I learned was that student and teacher voices carry a lot of weight for legislators. Although I am biased, I think it is hard for any human to argue against the value of required financial literacy education when they hear about the impact it has on ALL students. I am thrilled to be part of this movement.
My go-to curriculum for Personal Finance is the NGPF Semester Course. It is always up-to-date, relevant and easy to implement, not to mention, FREE! I also supplement with lessons shared from educators around the country. Attending the Jump$tart National Educators Conference, along with being an NGPF Fellow, and a member of FinLit Fanatics on Facebook, has helped me build so many professional collaborations and personal friendships. I feel so lucky to be part of this group of not only amazing teachers, but amazing humans!
I am writing this in our truck with our Airstream in tow, as we drive toward Redwoods National Park in California. This summer is our epic camping summer that is bringing us on a loop around the US, through the Southwest, up the West Coast, and back East through the northern plains. Our goals are to see as many National Parks as we can along the way and give our kids memories that will last a lifetime. With about 4500 miles already in the rearview, I can say that we have been successful so far!
Thank you for choosing me as July’s Teacher Spotlight!