NGPF Celebrates: Louise Biron, SUNY Cobleskill (NY)
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week 2015, NGPF is celebrating the hard work and commitment to personal finance education exhibited by our nation’s teachers by featuring just a few members of our NGPF educator community.
Featured Teacher: Louise Biron, Director of Financial Aid
School: SUNY Cobleskill, Cobleskill, New York
When we use the title “teacher,” we’re not just talking about classroom pedagogues. Louise is the Director of Financial Aid, and based on the resources she’s shared with us thus far, her college students are learning a lot from Louise’s constant teaching.
How did you get into this wacky world of college financial aid?
I am fairly new to the field of Financial Aid, but it didn’t take long for me to recognize how poorly the average student (and parent) really understands their financial aid package, particularly when it comes to loans. The financial aid office at SUNY Cobleskill had been doing a great job of making the necessary information available to students, but the student’s unwillingness to read it or failure to comprehend it was something we needed to work on. I felt that it was time to start experimenting with new, alternative ways of reaching students.
What strategies do you use to engage students ?
I like to use humor and music as much as possible when I’m explaining important financial information. Traditionally, this type of material has always been presented to students in a dry and technical format. I like to incorporate entertaining visuals in presentations and other communications as much as possible. I think this approach puts students at ease, keeps their attention, and makes an intimidating topic much more accessible.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment thus far as director of financial aid?
Like anyone trying something new, I had some initial apprehension about using less conventional teaching methods to explain material that has traditionally been addressed in a serious context. My first attempt at trying something original to reach our students was a series of posters and html emails that combined silly photos with serious bullet points and links to online resources (such as loan payment calculators, budget tools, etc;). We received numerous unsolicited comments from students and parents about how entertaining and useful these emails and posters were. That is when I knew we needed to continue our efforts to make financial information stand out from the crowd. “Info-tainment” videos are where I am focusing my current efforts. The satisfaction of feeling like I am helping students understand complicated financial topics is by far the best part of my job.
Louise was one of our Financial Literacy Month Contest winners! Click here to learn more about her award winning resource, or view its hilarity below.
About the Author
When I started working at Next Gen Personal Finance, it's as though my undergraduate degree in finance, followed by ten years as an educator in an NYC public high school, suddenly all made sense.