Jan 04, 2019

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks Project-Based Learning With Renee Wasinger of Olathe South High School (Kansas)

Renee Wasinger can be described as many things, most notably as an enterprising, enthusiastic, and energetic educator! If you visited her classroom in Olathe, Kansas, you no doubt would see her TBWA philosophy in action: Teaching By Walking Around.  Whether it's checking in with her students on their projects, creating a help center to build interest at her high school or pushing for universal access to personal finance, Renee's clearly demonstrates her passion for helping students everyday. As a store operations leader at Wal-Mart, she gained valuable insights about the skills her students will need to succeed in the "real world" and she makes sure they leave her classroom with those skills. Enjoy!


  • 0:00–1:00 Introduction
  • 1:01–2:37 A little bit about Renee
  • 2:38–5:50 Using her life experience to teach her students
  • 5:51–9:09 Climbing the ladder: from the grocery aisle to the assistant manager
  • 9:10–12:40 How she motivates her students using the MBWA method
  • 12:41–13:15 A word from NGPF
  • 13:16–16:44 The Island Project isn’t chaos, it’s engagement
  • 16:45–22:35 Setting the norms for her project-based classroom
  • 22:36–27:31 Addressing the topics students struggle with the most
  • 27:32–29:18 Changing up the Budget Challenge
  • 29:19–33:45 Olathe’s very own Financial Help Center
  • 33:46–34:46 Personal Finance progress in Kansas!
  • 34:47–38:12 Renee’s blog & notes about her students’ final projects
  • 38:13–39:46 Conclusion



  • “Most of what I learned in business translates to education. They just call it something else.”

  • “I do believe in vocabulary. If you can understand what you are reading you can learn anything.”

  • “In the middle of the semester I told my class that this is a car, not mine but yours. You are the driver of the car. You have to do the work, you have to push on the gas pedal. I am the engine that keeps us going and your resources are the fuel that’s going to keep you engaged. But you also have to make a decision: Am I stopping time? Do I have to get off at the tax street and stay there for a while?”

  • “I think everybody should work a customer service role in their life because they’d be a lot kinder to people.”

  • “In our education system, we teach our students, ‘We’re going regurgitate information to you, I’m going to give you a worksheet, you’re going to write down everything I said, and yay you get one hundred percent.’ And I don’t do that.”


About the Authors

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

Danielle Bautista

Danielle is a native of Southern California and a recent graduate from the University of Maine, where she braved the frigid winters—a feat in and of itself—and earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs. She has a passion for working with non-profit organizations and serving populations in underprivileged communities. When Danielle isn't writing NGPF blog posts, spearheading various outreach projects, or managing contests and flash surveys, you can find her doing some sort of outdoor activity, learning a new hobby, or cracking what she thinks are witty puns!

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