Innovative ideas and programs are what turns information into learning. Meet our Innovative Educators – dedicated professionals who have found new ways to teach practical money skills in the classroom.
Glenda SewardMid Prairie High School
In her Parenting and Life Management class at Mid Prairie High School in Wellman, Iowa; educator Glenda Seward uses hands-on activities to engage students in learning important financial concepts. Exercises like a role-playing game revolving around credit scores, and one in which students learn about compound interest using jelly beans, get students out of their seats and participating in learning about the normally "dry" subject of financial literacy.
The mandatory class for seniors covers important concepts students will need for life after high school, including compound interest, saving, household budgeting, the role of insurance, financial goal setting, and credit and identity theft, among others. In addition to Seward's role teaching this required class, she teaches an Adult Living class and a Life Skills class at the school and serves as a National Master Educator through The University of Arizona's Family Economics and Financial Education (FEFE) Program.
Of her Parenting and Life Management class in earlier days, Seward says, "I had used a number of financial literacy curricula before, but students found the lessons so boring. So I was looking for something more involved." It was this search that led her to discover more engaging lessons, which she found in part through the FEFE program. As a result, her classes began to include exercises like one in which students visually represent household spending categories with colored clay "pie pieces." Her class even plays financial Twister as a means of learning about paychecks and taxes, with students working in teams to answer questions, make moves on their Twister boards, and acquire points. According to Seward, these hands-on activities made learning financial skills a lot more engaging for students. "I found it helped them remember the concepts better, too," she says.
Parents have commented on the positive impact of Glenda's classes, including the discussions that have been generated at home as a result of her exercises. As her fellow FEFE Master Educator, Shelly Stanton says, "Glenda is continually progressing her education to ensure her students are successful and well versed in finance. I would love to have my own child in her courses." Her dedication to making her classes as fun and engaging as possible for students is reflected in students' comments about what they have learned in her class, as well. Says one student, "Saving is very important and can affect your future very drastically if you do not spend your money wisely."
In her Adult Living class, an elective for 11th and 12th graders, Seward teaches various financial and budgeting lessons, in addition to a lesson she created about the finances of death and dying. As part of the lesson, students consider the costs associated with death and learn about wills; they even visit a funeral home and discuss some of the ways they can ensure they and their families will be covered in the event of a death. Another lesson, which she created in collaboration with another educator and shared with financial literacy teachers at the national level, is a scenario-based credit report lesson in which students work with a realistic, fictional character who has made some common credit mistakes, to help the character rebuild her credit history.
When asked what she thinks students most enjoy about her classes, Seward explains that, "the level of confidence they have at the end of the class is noticeable. They feel like they have they tools to make their own decisions and start out in their adult lives." This is part of what she finds so rewarding about the teaching the class. Part of her motivation for becoming a financial literacy educator initially was seeing her students and their families struggling with financial issues. She wanted to provide students with the resources and knowledge they would need to be financially healthy, no matter what their incomes. "It motivates me to know that I have the potential to make a really positive impact on each student," she says.
Practical Money Skills commends Glenda Seward for her commitment to financial education at Mid Prairie High School.
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