Mission 2030 Guest Post: Debra Serafin Ensures Students Get the Best Personal Finance Education

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Oct 12, 2021
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Advocacy

The following post 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.

About Today's Guest Author

Debra Serafin is an educator at Mater Dei Prep High School in Middletown, New Jersey. Their school is the 100th recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is Debra describing Mater Dei Prep’s journey to the Gold Standard.

Describe a rough timeline for how you and/or your colleagues were able to advocate for personal finance to become a graduation requirement in your school/district. How long did it take? What were the major progress milestones?

It has taken me three years to convince the new Chair of the Board to make Financial Literacy a stand-alone course, taught in school, and by a highly qualified teacher. With the pandemic situation and having to move to online learning, many of our parents were involved in making sure their child was doing their course work each and every day. Because of this, parents saw the online program we were using for Personal Finance and commented to me (the Principal), that it lacked substance. In turn, I shared parent comments with the Board. While the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our schools, many good things have come out of the situation as a result of parents being engaged in their child’s schoolwork, and students having to be more independent and learning time management skills.

What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?

The main challenge was convincing Board members that this course was so important for our students to have in our curriculum (and taught in person) that it should be given the attention that it deserves.

What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?

One of our staff members actually choosing (on their own) to become NGPF certified was a huge "catalyst for change." He also has a finance background and would love to teach this class. This staff member, in turn, has shared his experiences with me and the Board.

About the Author

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