Mar 11, 2020

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Jill Clayton on how a State legislative change and NGPF Grant opportunity inspired a rapid shift in her district

Jill Clayton is a phenomenal personal finance teacher at Roxboro Community School in Roxboro, North Carolina. Her quest is one in a series of inspiring stories from NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge Grant Program which incentivizes high schools and districts to commit to ALL students taking personal finance courses before graduation. Learn more, and apply for your $2,500 to $30,000 Gold Standard Challenge Grant before the August 31, 2022 deadline here. Roxboro is the 12th recipient of the grant. Here's Jill in her own words describing how her school made the switch from a personal finance elective to a personal finance graduation requirement on short notice.

What got you started advocating for personal finance to be a graduation requirement?

I've been making this case for a while, as Personal Finance has been offered as an elective course at Roxboro Community School for many years - and I'm one of the teachers teaching it! It's a popular course that draws students from all different backgrounds and engages every single one of them. Who wouldn't want to learn skills that will help them every day for the rest of their lives? 

At the time I began advocating years ago, administration and faculty all strongly believed that this course was essential for our students' success in life far beyond high school. In fact, administration, faculty, board members, and parents have all been very supportive of personal finance becoming a graduation requirement for as long as I can remember.

What was the catalyst that allowed you to be successful? 

As I noted, support for this change was pretty universal. That meant it was a relatively smooth road to get it done in our district.

However, two items accelerated the change.

  1. I attended a NGPF workshop in October, and it really motivated me in my classroom. I found my students to be even more thoroughly engaged with the ideas and strategies I brought back from the FinCamp. I also learned about NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge grant opportunity, where my colleague and I could earn $10,000 for our personal finance classes if we signed up to adopt a personal finance graduation requirement. I shared this opportunity with my colleague, Mrs. Boatright and my principal, Mr. Bryant to develop a plan on how to reshuffle students schedules to fit a new local graduation requirement for personal finance. They played an absolutely integral part in this plan evolving.
  2. In the Summer of 2019, changes from the North Carolina legislature meant that soon, in theory, personal finance would be required for high school graduation beginning with all rising 9th graders in the fall of 2020. The timing of this state proposal, which is still in the works, meant that RCS was in a good position to transition. Fortunately, in my district, these conversations about the importance of a personal finance class were happening at the same time as the state conversations. Upon the state's adoption of the soon-to-be graduation requirement, one of our school board members stated that this change "was long overdue." That gives you a sense for the healthy appetite for change in my district.

Side note: I really hope that these conversations are happening locally at other school districts in North Carolina as the state requirement gets up and running. Our students can't afford to miss out on this class.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered along the way? 

The biggest challenge in implementing personal finance as a graduation requirement has been reconfiguring the course map for students. Due to the new regulations coming down from the legislature, Personal finance now falls into the social studies department, and is taught as a year-long Economics and Personal Finance class. This means teachers with social studies credentials are now in charge of the course, which has pretty hefty implications for students' and teachers' schedules. Our department teachers have been meeting to discuss the sequence in which the social studies curriculum will now be offered to be most beneficial to our students while also meeting the state's soon-to-be requirements.


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