Aug 26, 2021

Mission 2030 Guest Post: Leslie Stewart took a PD Course and Came Back Ready to Teach Personal Finance

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

Leslie Stewart is a math teacher at Springfield High School in Springfield, Colorado. Their school is the 49th grant recipient of the Gold Standard Challenge grant. Here is Leslie describing Springfied'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?

In the summer of 2019, I took a professional development course through Economic Low Down. The course was awesome and I was excited about the free curriculum and resources that were provided. I spoke with our guidance counselor to ask if there would be a class period that we could offer a Personal Finance Class and I would be willing to teach it. She found a slot for me to teach the class and we soon realized how valuable the information was for our students. I took another professional development course with the same organization during the summer of 2020. That is where I learned about NextGen Personal Finance. After that course, I spoke with our building principal about the Gold Standard Challenge and the grant opportunity. Mr. Lasley took the information to our Superintendent, Mr. Hargrove. Both administrators were on board with requiring the course as a graduation requirement. They took the proposal to our school board and it was approved in June of 2020.

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 believe our biggest challenge was finding a spot for the course in our schedule and making sure we had a qualified teacher to teach it. We found the spot by making it a semester course following a course called Living on Your Own, which is also a graduation requirement. The challenge of making sure we had a qualified teacher for the course was satisfied by another math teacher, Robyne Westphal. Our business teacher, Megan England, was also taking the two Economic Low Down PD courses to satisfy the requirement. Since we have 3 teachers able to teach the course in any given year, the administration felt this was a very sustainable course to require for graduation.

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

Our guidance counselor, Ginger Walker, our building principal, Kyle Lasley, our Superintendent, Richard Hargrove, and of course our five school board members.

Which stakeholders (students, parents, admin, business leaders, school board, etc) were helpful partners in your quest to make the graduation requirement happen?

Parents, administration, business leaders, and school board members. Most of the teachers, administrators, and school board members have students in this district and were well aware of the need for this course. Several of the school board members are also business owners in our community and supported the proposal immediately. In our small, rural school everyone wears many hats within our community.

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