Using Correspondence From Former Students to Inspire and Motivate Your Current Students

Mar 05, 2019
NGPF Fellows, Behavioral Finance, Financial Literacy, Teaching Strategies

The following blog post comes courtesy of NGPF Fellow, Patrick Kubeny, of Rhinelander High School in Rhinelander, WI.


If you are looking for ways to motivate and inspire your current students to actually implement some of the financial strategies you are teaching in your classes, try using some correspondence from some of your former students--IT WORKS! I received the following email from a former student and shared it with my personal finance classes:
Hello Mr. Kubeny (Coach K!):
Travis here - class of 2003, from way back when.  I hope you and your family are doing well in the Northwoods.
Wanted to reach out to you and say THANK YOU again for teaching the lessons of compounding interest!  It inspired me to start investing in my Roth IRA when I began at Papa Murphy's Pizza (a modest $50/month investment) in 2002.  Ever since, I've continued to invest in that same account with funds that track the S&P, and have built up a pretty sizable portion.  Now, at 32, I've reached an income limit where I can no longer invest in the Roth (which is both great and sad) - however, if my returns remain the same 8% annually for the next 27 years, when I retire at 59 1/2 that Roth will be worth over 600K if I don't invest another penny into it.  Absolutely incredible!  Not a gloating email, but these are real life numbers from a real person...from Rhinelander High School!
Thanks again - keep spreading the gospel!  Also, pass to your students to get as many skills as they can in data science, computer science, robotics, and computer programming.  It's a novelty now (think MS Word/Excel in 1998), but in 10 years when they are really hitting their stride, it will be the norm.  Jobs with those skills will be the new high paying manufacturing roles seen in the 60s-80s.
If there is anything I can do for you or your students, please let me know.
Best always,
Here is another one I shared:
Mr. Kubeny, 
You would be surprised how often your name has come up over the years when discussing investments and having your money work for you. I still remember sitting in class seeing how I could become a millionaire through a Roth IRA account! This past summer I graduated from UMD with a bachelors in Exercise Science. After enjoying a great baseball career at UMD, I turned down a couple of professional opportunities through independent baseball (not affiliated with any MLB team, very little to no pay). Although that decision was tough, I had an internship lined up in Eagan, MN as a Strength & Conditioning/Baseball Coach at a baseball club called Minnesota MASH. After the summer internship finished up, I received a full-time job at MASH and have recently started an adult fitness program here. Typically we've just trained athletes so the opportunity to start an adult program and be in control of it is a great long term opportunity for me. Fortunately, I met my girlfriend Emily early on in college and we've been living at her parent's house in Apple Valley, MN since June. Emily is a Special Education Teacher at an elementary school here in Eagan. As you know, the starting salaries of a teacher and a strength/baseball coach is not something to write home about but as I keep reminding her, the earlier we start investing, the more that compound interest racks up! We recently just bought a townhouse together so we're looking forward to getting out of her parent's house and into our own home in the next couple months. Even with the burden of having to start paying back student loans, I've been able to get my feet wet and grow my investment portfolio. If you ever have some free time, I'd enjoy talking more about investments, etc since I know that's your forte! You planted that money seed in my head early and it has continued to grow! I hope you and your family have been doing well. Your kids have to be getting close to heading off to college, yeah? Looking forward to hearing from you!
After sharing these types of emails from some of my former students, I often get a reaction like this from my current students:
Hey Mr. Kubeny,
I am very interested in starting a Roth IRA right now in my life. I do not want to worry about money, retirement and struggle in life like my parents do. How do I start one, who do I talk to, where do I go? I need this. I want to get a head start in my life, not fall behind like the majority of people do. Thank you.
As you can see, it can be very powerful! I also started a poster in my classroom that any and all students that open a Roth IRA can sign. This also seems to inspire some students to actually open and begin funding their own account. If you have been teaching personal finance for any length of time, I am sure you have received a note from a former student letting you know how valuable your advice truly was for them. Think about sharing that note with your current just may change another's life too!


About the Author

Laura Matchett

After graduating with an education degree and spending 7 years in an elementary classroom, Laura made the switch to the non-profit world and loves interacting with students, educators and business professionals across the country. She is passionate about all students having access to high quality education and views personal finance education as one way to ‘level the playing field’. When Laura is not locating or creating high quality educational resources, you can find her mountain biking or searching for the best ramen in town!