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Our rockstar teacher for September 2023 is Dr. Eric C. Hite, Ed.D
McLaurin High School, Florence, Mississippi
A conversation with Dr. HiteWhy were you called to teach personal finance? 
While growing up as a young black man in Mississippi, I witnessed the pervasive cycle of poverty around me on a daily basis, coupled with the lack of knowledge about breaking free from it, which left a lasting impact that I had to do something different. Despite my parents’ relentless work ethic across multiple jobs, financial progress and true financial freedom remained elusive for my family.

The phrase “we had just enough to get by.” was common, and natural and described my family perfectly. As an adult, I found myself working as a Tax Preparation Specialist at a prominent national company. Here, I encountered countless individuals burdened by excessive fees simply because they lacked the understanding to file their own tax returns, no matter how simple. Transitioning into the role of a business and technology teacher, I was determined to equip my students with the essential tools and insights in personal finance that could reshape their life trajectories. Though my assigned classes were Accounting, Marketing and STEM, I aptly named my class “Life Skills,” reflecting the enduring significance of the principles and concepts I imparted, which I knew would guide them and benefit them throughout their lives.

How do you bring personal finance to life in your classroom?
I teach at a Title 1 school located in a rural area of Mississippi, where my students often come from challenging backgrounds characterized by broken homes, poverty, substance abuse, and limited access to education. I know from first-hand experience the potential of financial literacy to change lives for the better and thus, I am committed to introducing them to these critical life skills and concepts that they have yet to encounter, but will most certainly need.

To infuse personal finance education within my classroom, I implement a series of dynamic activities that effectively emphasize the concepts of wealth, financial autonomy, and prudent decision-making over mere wishful thinking. Collaborating closely with the math, science, English and history departments, I orchestrate activities that illustrate the profound impact of interest in real-world scenarios, including the implications of sales taxes, credit card Annual Percentage Rates (APR), and the exponential growth facilitated by compound interest through investment vehicles. By synergizing financial concepts with the principles of simple and compound interest, students can seamlessly relate mathematical constructs to their practical lives.

My educational approach extends to wider collaborative initiatives as well. I coordinate the participation of my students in the State and National Stock Market Game, a stimulating exercise that familiarizes them with the dynamics of investment and economic fluctuations. Moreover, I orchestrate a Family Financial Fun Night, an interactive event that brings students and their parents face-to-face with industry professionals in areas such as investments, insurance, banking, and credit. Participants glean valuable insights into foundational financial principles through engaging games and activities.

A highlight of our curriculum involves students partaking in Reality Fairs, during which they are allocated a monthly income determined by their cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) multiplied by $1000. For instance, a student with a 3.6 GPA would be assigned $3600 for their simulated monthly budget. Subsequently, students meticulously document their monthly expenditures, enabling us to utilize investment calculators to compare their spending trajectory over a six-year span with the potential wealth accumulation achieved by investing those funds into stocks or index funds during the same interval.

Furthermore, I incorporate an immersive learning tool called SPENT, an online game developed by Next Gen Personal Finance, which confronts students with the harsh realities of scarcity, poverty, and the demanding nature of financial decision-making. By navigating the game’s intricate scenarios, students gain firsthand experience of the challenges faced by individuals striving to subsist on a limited income. This interactive experience not only encourages thoughtful dialogue among students and their families but also fosters deeper insights into financial management.

To acknowledge exemplary performance and accomplishment, I conclude the SPENT game by recognizing students who effectively save money, regain their financial footing, secure employment, establish a residence, and initiate savings. In conjunction with this recognition, students are required to compose an essay reflecting upon five pivotal lessons drawn from the game and their intended applications in real-life situations.

To impart a sense of tangible aspiration, I incorporate NGPF’s investment simulation game,, into the curriculum. This engaging activity enables students to make twenty years’ worth of investment decisions within a compressed twenty-minute timeframe. As an instructive benchmark, I challenge my students to cultivate their $4000 monthly investment into an impressive $1 million over two decades. This comprehensive game underscores the importance of savings, investment strategy, compound interest, the time value of money, and the imperative of maintaining an emergency fund. Recognizing exceptional achievement, I honor students who attain this remarkable feat with a Million Dollar Wall of Fame Award.

Finally, to cultivate a deeper connection with my students, I candidly share my personal journey, detailing my progression from grappling with credit card debt and lack of assets to my current financial standing. This narrative offers students tangible evidence of the power of financial knowledge, supplemented by the practical steps I undertook to reach my current state.

What was your “ah-ha” moment?
In the midst of my inaugural year as a teacher at a new school, I found myself entrusted with a group of senior students renowned for their disinterest in learning and their disruptive behavior in classrooms. These young men were assigned to my Accounting and Personal Finance class because other teachers had put them out of their classes, leaving me to engage with this group twice a day, every day. As I embarked on this journey, I was determined to make a meaningful impact, despite the skepticism surrounding these students’ potential.

Initially, the road was difficult as my lessons were often met with indifference, and classroom management remained a constant struggle. However, one day, as I was discussing the concept of budgeting and responsible financial decisions, the leader of the group raised his hand and asked: “How can I save money for my little brother’s education?” At that moment, it dawned on me that these seemingly disinterested students were, in fact, grappling with real-life concerns, aspirations, and responsibilities.

After answering his question by sharing the concept of saving and investing.  This student,  initially one of the most disruptive students, became increasingly interested in the world of investing. He voraciously consumed information on stocks, bonds, and financial markets. To my astonishment, he even started hosting study sessions after school, passionately explaining investment strategies to his fellow classmates. Instead of causing disruptions, the student and his cohorts engaged in spirited discussions about investment portfolios, risk management, and long-term financial planning. Their conversations about dividends and compound interest replaced the previous atmosphere of chaos.

The ultimate triumph materialized when the leader and his team entered the State and National Stock Market Game and Personal Finance Challenge. Remarkably, they not only participated but excelled, consistently achieving high rankings and outperforming even the most accomplished teams. Their dedication and newfound passion for personal finance earned them several prestigious awards at both the state and national levels, a testament to their remarkable journey.

The former troublemaker’s transformation didn’t stop there. Inspired by his experiences and armed with newfound personal financial knowledge, he composed a song called “Investing Can Be Scary,” a reflection of his journey from street life to financial literacy. To everyone’s amazement, the song won second place in the state’s Rock-o-nomix challenge (students must write an original song and create a music video based on financial principles). This feat further bolstered his confidence and his peers’ belief in themselves and their financial futures

The young man not only graduated from high school but went on to enroll in college, setting his sights on a future in accounting. The metamorphosis was awe-inspiring, showcasing the incredible impact of financial education when coupled with the promise of a brighter financial future.

What else do you want us to know?
As the Founder and President of E-Hitech Solutions, I travel across the country hosting professional development Personal Finance Integration workshops for school districts.   I truly believe that education is a superhighway that flows in both directions, but must be inclusive, engaging, applicable, challenging, and fun in a safe, organized environment that allows teachers and students to express themselves, make mistakes, bask in the glow of their accomplishments and share their concerns. The integration of Personal Finance into K-12 education is a game changer. The core content classes: Math, Science, English, History, and Foreign Language, are extremely important for the overall development of the student.  However, the homeless person on the street, the window washer, and the person at the street corner with the sign soliciting donations may not have a grasp of any of those subjects. Still, all clearly understand the need for, importance of, and impact of personal finance. Everyone will be faced with Personal Finance decisions in their lives that will affect their state of mind and state of being.

My approach to personal finance education workshops, seminars and classes involves a blend of interactive activities, collaborative initiatives, immersive games, and life experience all aimed at equipping teachers, students, and parents with the necessary financial skills to navigate their futures with prudence and confidence.

Dr. Hite’s favorite resources

More about Dr. Hite

I completed my Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi this summer and will be hooded in December.
I founded E-Hitech Solutions to address schools’ needs for integrating Personal Finance curriculum into K-12 classes. I have hosted numerous workshops and seminars on the topics of Taxes, Investments,  Budgeting, Personal Finance Games, and Competitions for student engagement and integration into core classes.

I have been teaching for 18 years and have taught in Tennessee, California, and in Mississippi. I currently teach seventh-grade Cyber Foundations 1 at McLaurin High School in Rankin County, MS. McLaurin High School is named after its founder T.C. McLaurin, who started the school in 1950 as a school for the education of black children during segregation.

I piloted a program at my school for the Department of Education called Cyber Fusion. The computer education class integrates the technology course into the core content classes. The teachers and I collaborate and co-teach throughout the year. Technology content and objectives are taught and infused throughout the year within the core content area classes. This method of delivery allows the students to be double-blocked in English, while still meeting the credit requirement for Cyber Foundations 1. I work directly with all 7th grade English, Math, Science, and History teachers to create lessons and curriculum that combines all of our standards together. Over the past few years my students have placed 1st or 2nd in the Statewide Personal Finance Challenge, Rock-o-nomix Challenge and Stock Market game.

I have been married for 29 years to the love of my life and we have four adult children. The youngest two are still in college, while the oldest two work professionally.

“I have attended the JumpStart National Educators conference for the past 2 years. I love every minute of it and have come back with so many resources, ideas, and connections to keep my classroom and workshops invigorating, rigorous, fun, and engaging.” – Dr. Hite


Dr. Hite Financial Workshop Commercial “Get On Board the Financial Train”