Mission 2030 Guest Post: Victoria DeRoner of Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter Leaps from Passion to Action to Change in 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 the Author
Victoria DeRoner is a Teacher Technology Coach and Financial Literacy teacher at PA Distance Learning Charter School. The school is the 47th in the nation to earn NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge grant by successfully adopting a standalone graduation requirement for personal finance that all students will take.
How long have you been advocating for financial education?
My passion for financial literacy stems from my personal experience taking Financial Peace University (FPU) in 2011 and co-coordinating FPU since 2013. Since then I have always wanted the opportunity to teach Financial Literacy to high school students.
That opportunity came in the Spring of 2019 when our high school principal approached me about teaching the course. I attended a conference at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in the Spring of 2019 to learn about resources for the Financial Literacy course that I would be rewriting.
What steps did you take to move the ball forward?
After returning from the conference, I implemented the book The Missing Semester, which was showcased at the event, and our school participated in a research study through Penn State University analyzing the impact students experienced while taking the course in the Fall semester of 2019.
The results from the research study indicated improvements in subjective knowledge, financial behavior, objective knowledge, and self-esteem for all students in the course. Meanwhile, on researching personal finance curriculum, I learned about Next Gen Personal Finance, and I used resources from NGPF to supplement my growing course. I also attended several NGPF teacher PD webinars and the virtual FinCamp2020 during the 2019-2020 school year to keep leveling up my teaching skills.
Who were helpful partners in your quest to make personal finance a requirement?
When I approached our administration about making Financial Literacy a graduation requirement, they did not hesitate to support this initiative. In the spring of 2020, our high school principal sent out a survey to all high school students, families and teachers regarding the need for a Financial Literacy course. The survey results indicated in favor of making this a graduation requirement and the great need for all high school students to take this course.
With both fall and spring survey results in hand, the high school principal created a Financial Literacy Committee, recruiting two other passionate teachers to serve on the committee with me. We are working together to revise the Financial Literacy course curriculum for the graduation requirement to include more NGPF curriculum, and examine implementing financial literacy at the middle school level with NGPF's new Middle School curriculum.
The survey results supporting the formal addition of the financial literacy graduation requirement were proposed to our School Board on June 8, 2020 and the Board voted unanimously to make this semester course a graduation requirement. We are so fortunate to have administrators and a Board that sees the value in these necessary life skills to the future success of our students.
We are excited to work on our implementation plan and revise the course in preparation for the graduation requirement to go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year!