Rock Star Educator’s Name:
Hudson High School (Hudson, Ohio)
Years as Teacher:
Middle School and High School
Suzanne teaches consumer science, personal financial management, culinary and instructs a personal finance course for students with special needs.
MAKING MONEY MATTER
Having had to work through college and pay her parents back, Suzy learned the costs of education, “which was much less then than it is now”, she says. “Students today will never be able to pay for college working for minimum wage.” Her personal experiences helped her understand the potential financial pitfalls students face. She had a rude awakening in how the financial space changed from when she was in school, and now she shares these lessons in her classroom with her students.
STATE FINANCIAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENT
In Ohio, students have the option of taking 1 of 6 classes in different departments that include financial literacy as a part of the curriculum. While it is a graduation requirement, Suzy would like to see students have more learning hours in the classroom. She is currently working with Ohio Jumpstart to advocate for the passing of a bill to have a semester-long class specifically focused on financial literacy.
CALLED TO TEACH
Having 3 boys of her own and understanding the importance of financial literacy, ignited her passion to teach personal finance. Suzanne began teaching in 1983. In 2003, family and consumer sciences became standardized, popularizing the need for more financial literacy in classrooms. In 2011, she heard about Take Charge Today and became a State Educator under their tutelage. She began promoting financial literacy and later applied to be a master financial educator. Today she is still serving as an “on call” National Financial Educator. This has helped Suzy in teaching her personal finance lessons in ways that are fun and engaging, which assists the student in retaining, and ultimately applying learned concepts to their real lives.
Take Charge Today, Next Gen (for gaming and simulation). She made special note that she really likes the “thought and reflection” that Next Gen provides her students through their resources. CFPB and Junior Achievement, with specific mention of JA “working with the students and providing them mentors”, are also among her go-to resources.
Suzy holds the belief that “students learn best with hands-on learning tools, eye-opening current events, pointing to financial issues, and using games as simulations with an intended purpose. She loves the hands-on lessons provided in resources from Take Charge Today and Next Gen Personal FInance. She believes in active learning. “Instead of sharing a timeline on paper, why not have the students create a human timeline, in order of specific dates, to help students understand the history of Social Security.” Suzy loves to take what others may view as a “dry” topic, and make it come alive.
She approaches lesson planning with a passion that will empower the next generation to be successfull, “as they will be our future leaders and citizens”, she explains. She went on to ask, “If you could share tools that will save students from bad debt and financial ruin, why wouldn’t you?”. She understands that “personal stories really bring financial priciples to life.” She uses her own heart-centered approach to motivate the students by telling powerful stories, with positive outcomes, that promote and encourage students to apply the skills in which she is teaching. A few other ways in which Suzy promotes learning financial literacy concepts are:
- Posting infographics
- Using Word Walls
- Inviting local speakers
Suzy explained that using local speakers gives students real-life experiences. From inviting two local salesman from Kalban Auto Group, a car dealership, who brought new and used vehicles to teach about the car buying experience, to a bankruptcy lawyer, as well the Better Business Bureau, were brought in to share in her classroom. Suzy not only believes in giving the student’s hand’s on experience, she employs it in her classroom as one of the unique teaching techniques to keep students engaged and excited about learning about finance and fiscal responsibility.
One of her core beliefs, as it pertains to her approach to classroom learning, is being authentic, and creating unique experiences curated specifically to engage and encourage her student’s lifelong financial success. She believes that building relationships with her student is of paramount importance. “Students need to know that they can show up to ask questions, or just to discuss life.” Building solid relationships with her students earn her their trust, and allow her to continue to customize her lessons to the specific needs of her students, thus positively influencing information retention and the probability of long-term financial success