Jun 23, 2020

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Jill Page of Glasgow High School Says It's Time to Make Time for Financial Education

Jill Page is a business teacher from Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Montana. Her story is one in a series of inspiring tales 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. Jill's high school was the 31st recipient nationwide of the grant when they formally committed to ALL their students taking a standalone, semester-long personal finance course before graduation.

Here's Jill, in her own words, sharing how she made it happen:

What timeline did you follow to get your school to the Gold Standard?

I have been a business teacher for 17 years and I have always loved to teach personal finance. I knew that it was something ALL students should have, not just the students fortunate enough to enroll in the class. My advocacy journey began when I started incorporating personal finance lessons into other business classes I was teaching, just so I could have some students gain access to the basics of financial capability.

My first broad push as an advocate for more financial education, however, was when I attended my first Jump$tart National Educators Conference 5 or 6 years ago. I came back from my trip so excited about all of the new teaching resources that were available to me, and I just kept integrating more and more financial education with my other classes. This worked really well because personal finance really is a cross-disciplinary, real world subject that every student can connect to their other classes.

After attending an NGPF workshop (before the first ever NGPF FinCamp) about 4 years ago, I got inspired to speak up on the importance of comprehensive financial education in my building. I started requesting to teach a stand-alone personal finance class soon thereafter.

What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you persevere through them?

Over the ensuing few years, one of the biggest obstacles to my success was finding the time in our schedule to make a semester-long personal finance class work with the other classes I taught. After a lot of coordination with the counseling office at my school, I finally got that opportunity last school year (2018-2019), and I taught my first semester long class! 

This year, I was able to expand the course to a year-long deep dive. Because of our master schedule and us being a rural school with relatively few teachers on staff, though, rearranging the schedule is always tricky. On the one hand, there are fewer variables and schedules to manage than in a larger district, but on the other, there are fewer teachers who can manage the addition of any new coursework.

As a result of this delicate balance, next school year (2020-2021) the personal finance class will return to the semester format, but - drumroll, please - it will be REQUIRED for graduation for our incoming freshman and the classes thereafter!

What/who were the catalysts for change to make this happen?

My administration has been very supportive of this change. There is always a little resistance to formalizing such a change, and overhauling our high school graduation requirements was a winding process in itself, but both our administration and school board were instrumental in getting personal finance to be a required semester course. They, like so many administrators when presented with the value of this class, saw the need! Even better, they helped me take the formal steps necessary to make the course a requirement.

I am happy to say that the Gold Standard Challenge grant was an added bonus and an important catalyst in this change as well.

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