Mission 2030 Guest Post: Jessica Mueller gets Unanimous Vote to Further Personal Finance Education
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 the Author
Jessica Mueller is an avid, devoted personal finance teacher at Baraboo High School (Baraboo, WI), which was the 17th high school in the U.S. to receive an NGPF Gold Standard Challenge grant of $10,000 when the school committed to all its students taking personal finance before graduation. Sometimes all it takes is the right teacher asking for what's right for students to get this monumental change done! Here is the journey to the Gold Standard that Baraboo High School took, in Jessica's own words:
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?
September/October 2019: I approached Director of Teaching & Learning Dr. Nick Karls about applying for the grant and furthering Personal Finance in the classroom. Dr. Karls then approached the district superintendent, and they both agreed it was a great thing to try to go for. I applied for the grant at the end of October.
Early December 2019: I heard back from NGPF that we received the go-ahead to pursue the grant (with the graduation requirement stipulation), and I informed Dr. Karls of the news. We started the process to get the graduation requirements changed for our school.
Late December 2019/Early January 2020: I met with the department that was losing their graduation requirement, and we spoke about what the change meant for them (nothing is changing as far as the class goes except it would no longer count as a graduation requirement as of 2022/2023 school year). We approached the board for a preliminary discussion on their thoughts about changing the requirements for graduation. They requested us to go to the curriculum board meeting so they could find out more information on why we would like to make this change, how it would impact students, and what I was doing in my class. In general, the curriculum board was curious to learn more about my class and what I was teaching in personal finance.
January 27th: The entire school board unanimously passed the new graduation requirement for personal finance.
What challenges did you encounter in your efforts to make personal finance a graduation requirement, and what solutions did you find for these challenges?
I was lucky enough to face no real challenges. Everyone in my building and district was supportive in furthering the personal finance education of students to prepare them for their futures as adults.
What/who were the "catalysts for change" that allowed your efforts to be successful?
My passion for personal finance was a major part of how and why our efforts were successful. I passed my national personal finance certification through W!SE in November and have been teaching personal finance for five years. With additional support from Dr. Nick Karls & Shelly Gillmore, we were able to share our plan with all stakeholders mentioned above (school board, business department, and administration) and explain the value of a stand-alone personal finance graduation requirement. We received unanimous support to move forward.