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Name:  Andrea Pena

School: Round Valley High School, Eagar, AZ

Grade levels:  9-12

Subjects: Business Math and Business Education

Years as an educator: 4


Making Money Matter

Jump$tart Staff: How do you make money matter to your students?

Andrea: “Most of my seniors are trade school students or direct-to-industry minded. Many of their families do not discuss money and may be poor examples of how to properly manage money. I want to break that cycle. I try to relate math in a way that will directly apply to what they will experience. For example with auto financing, I have them choose a car to purchase and discuss the monetary difference between paying cash and financing. Then, I show them the “drive free cars for life” video and teach them the formula to calculate how much their car payment will be. Next, we calculate the actual cost of the car over the life of the loan and it really opens their eyes. Last, I show them the finance calculators on the computer where they groan and complain that I ‘made them do it the hard way.’ I’ve found this concept sinks in deeper if they do the calculations themselves!”

Jump$tart Staff: How do you teach them the value of saving and investing?

Andrea: “I do a project where they design their ‘dream house.’ They have to calculate the square footage, how much paint they need to buy, how much lumber, how much carpet, etc. I let them dream and see how math is in everything they do. Many of my students will go into construction, so this information can be used immediately. My students will start investing this month. If I can convince my students to  pay themselves 10% from every paycheck, they can retire as millionaires. It’s so exciting!”

Jump$tart Staff: What principals to you believe to be the most important in teaching this generation of students?

Andrea: “In my business classes, we also try to watch current events and see how it applies to business. We currently are watching how drones have been approved to fly and deliver packages. This can greatly affect our future and potential jobs. I recently had an engineer as a guest speaker through Zoom. He automated Amazon and Target warehouses. I have found that if you find things that interest and apply to them, they will soak up all the business concepts you teach because it applies to their future. Business and economics are all around us. If my students can learn to think critically, they will make better decisions. I want them to find their passion, work hard and dream big. We start the year with a career section where they research their aptitudes, possible jobs available, income levels and I always focus on the demand for that job and we set goals to get there.”


Financial Education Requirement in Arizona

Arizona doesn’t currently require schools to take a financial literacy class. Andrea says she is fortunate that her administration sees the value in financial education and allows her to work this into her curriculum.

Way to go Round Valley High School!


Called to Teach

Andrea: “I have a business degree and owned my own business for 14 years. I coached and was a part time substitute teacher for years. I love teenagers and their potential. I had the opportunity to teach full time, and am grateful that I made the switch. I feel that we get to teach life lessons, teach integrity, how to be contributing members of society and make a positive difference in the world. Is there anything better?”


Go-To Resources

Andrea: “I live by the Dave Ramsey baby steps and teach some of his principles. For my lesson plans, I love Next Gen Personal Finance (  I use, Arizona Council on Economic Education ( and (I particularly love their activities like time value of money with jelly beans). Jump$tart’s NEC conference is where I learned about many of the resources that I utilize. Since I am new to teaching and had to create a good portion of my own curriculum, it was so beneficial.”


How This Rockstar Teacher Teaches During a Pandemic

Andrea: “I live in rural Arizona where we have been relatively sheltered from this pandemic. Our school gives our students the choice to come to school and learn in the classroom, or do distance learning. I fortunately teach most of my students in my classroom. We never know if this will change, so we have to always have a plan B.”