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Name: Jessica Culver

School: Ozark High School, Ozark, Arkansas

Grade levels: 10th-12th grade

Subjects: Civics, Economics, concurrent college credit history courses

Years as an educator: 18


Making Money Matter

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

Jessica: “I make money matter to students by making economics real and relatable.  I aim to help students make real-world connections to everything we study, because it’s when those real-world connections are made that true learning occurs.   For example, we have a very agriculture-based economy in our area, so I just did a big unit on how agriculture, economics, and finance are all related.  We planted in the school greenhouse, we had Zoom guest speakers from different agricultural and economic sectors, and we virtually worked with a classroom in Germany on issues related to environment, sustainability, and agriculture.  A group of my students are even planting around our community in April, making a community connection to the role of agriculture, economics, and finance.  Last year we were in the middle of a somewhat similar lesson when the pandemic hit, so I had my students write thank you letters to our community’s essential workers, understanding the role of essential workers in our local and national economy; we even sent the essential workers “Seeds of Hope” so that they could do their own plantings at home.  By doing all of this, economics and finance are no longer just topics in a textbook; instead, they are all around us, each and every day.  When the issues matter to your students, that is when true learning occurs.”


Jump$tart Staff: “What is the financial education requirement in your state?”

Jessica: “All students must take a semester of Economics in order to graduate; I teach this Economics course at my school, and it incorporates many aspects of personal finance.”


Jump$tart Staff: “Can you tell us about your calling to teach?”

Jessica: “I always knew, from a young age, that education was the key to success, and I believe in the power of education to transform your life and help you reach your goals.  It is this strong belief in education as essential in our lives that makes me want to continually share the power of education!”


Jump$tart Staff: “What are your go-to resources for teaching financial literacy to your students?”

Jessica:   “Economics Arkansas is a wonderful organization, and you don’t just have to be a teacher in Arkansas to appreciate their amazing resources.  I also recommend Take Charge Today (I am a former Take Charge Today National Master Educator, and they are a great organization); they have lesson plans for nearly every financial topic you may be teaching.  I also frequently use NGPF (Next Gen Personal Finance); we just used NGPF’s “Stocks On Your Birthday” worksheet, and it was a great way for students to make a personal connection to the stock market.  I also recommend iCivics, and it’s not just for Civics teachers; iCivics has games related to everything from how to run a county government to how to run a campaign, which could lead to a number of financial connections.  As a former Bill of Rights Institute Teacher, I also use the Bill of Rights Institute’smaterials; they have many lessons related to government finances and economics issues.  And, of course, Jump$tart is always a resource!  I am a member of Arkansas’s Jump$tart State Board, and I know this is an organization that truly cares about students and teachers.


Jump$tart Staff: “How do you teach during the pandemic?”

Jessica: “I have been in-person teaching all school year, and I also have some virtual students as well.  During the pandemic, I make an effort to get to know all of my students and provide the most timely educational materials that I can.”


Jump$tart Staff: How does the NEC effect your teaching?

Jessica:  “I LOVE the yearly Jump$tart National Educator’s Conference, and it has such an impact on my teaching.  The Jump$tart NEC Conference provides me with so many resources, which I continue to use to this day.  Also, the NEC helps me to network with teachers from across the country, and I learn so much from the amazing educators who attend the conference.  It is this coming together of educators, who all care about financial education, that gives me that spark to keep going, keep working hard, and keep building those strong financial foundations.  Thank you Jump$tart!”