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Our rockstar teacher for October 2023 is Mrs. Kayla Bousum
Johnston High School | Johnston, Iowa

A conversation with Mrs. Bousum

Why were you called to teach personal finance?
I have seen people I love struggle due to their financial decisions.  I also worked as a collector for a utility company during high school and college.  Seeing others struggle with money management and ultimately upset about how they were going to pay the bills made me passionate about personal finance.  I know that my high school juniors have the power to influence their financial futures, so I hope to teach them the basics so they are equipped to make the best decisions.

How do you bring personal finance to life in your classroom?
I bring personal finance to life by making class engaging and fun.  I love games and competitions, so if I can make an activity into a game, I do it.  We play a lot of Kahoots, Fin Cap Fridays and Questions of the Day from NGPF, Gimkits, jeopardy-style games, etc. We play a lot of the NGPF arcade games throughout the semester and we play board games like Pay Day or Act Your Wage during different units. On the first day of class, students try their hand at, and I reward the class leader with candy as a reward, and ask them to talk about their decisions during the game and how it made them feel. I also make sure that they apply their learning to their current and future lives.  They choose a career path early in the semester, research the salary, education and training requirements, and specific programs or schools, then later create a budget for that career. They really see how their decisions in the next couple years can affect their financial future and how they can change behaviors now to make those dreams a reality.

What was your “ah-ha” moment?
I have been teaching for so long that I am always running into graduates.  They often brag to me about their personal finances and let me know that I have a reason to be proud of them.  For example, recently, while visiting the amazing (and expensive) Iowa State Fair, I ran into a student and asked him why he wasn’t in line for the bungee ride with his friends.  His answer was, “That’s too expensive.  I save my money” and went on to tell me that my class inspired him to be much more frugal and think about the long term.  When I taught this young man during his junior year, I never would have guessed he would take the class concepts so seriously as an adult.  I am so proud of him and so many of my students who have done the same!

What else do you want us to know?
If you are nervous to teach personal finance because you don’t have the personal knowledge, or maybe you have made money mistakes in your own life, push yourself.  It is a class that is so applicable to every person, that you are bound to make a huge difference!  If you share your past money mistakes, students realize that one mistake isn’t usually a life sentence and that it is possible to grow from your mistakes.  There are so many free resources that you can use to teach yourself.  Before you know it, you will feel like a personal finance expert.

Mrs. Bousum’s favorite resources
I love the convenience of all NGPF materials.  They are so easy to find, adapt, and use with students.  And many of them are fun, especially the linked arcade games below!


Shady Sam

Build Your Stax

The Bummer Game

The Financial Literacy team at Johnston High School has been using Stukent’s Personal Finance Simulation for over three years.  It is a great way for students to practice everything we learn in class in a low-risk way, using simulated paychecks and expenses.  I also find that it is a great way to improve attendance and engagement in class, since students want to avoid paying fees and fines!

Stukent’s Personal Finance Simulation

More about Mrs. Kayla Bousum

In 2016, I received a grant for $2000 to use for my classroom.  I decided to use some of the money to pay for myself and a colleague to attend the Jump$tart National Educator Conference.  Since then, I have attended all but one year.  Every year, I walk away with new resources that I can use immediately in the classroom.  More importantly, I have made connections with other educators around the US that share my passion for Financial Literacy. My teaching has improved and my students are reaping the benefits!

When I am not teaching Financial Literacy, I also enjoy the challenge of coordinating the high school internship program at my school.  To me it is a natural progression after students take Financial Literacy as a junior to continue their career focus in an internship during their senior year.  I love to watch them grow over two years and become more confident in their chosen career path, which can lead to financial success.

In my freetime, I love spending time with friends and family, including my husband Grant, and children Alaina, Kellan and Kemper.  Outdoor activities and youth sports are my favorite ways to spend summers and weekends!