2019 NGPF Changemakers Summit: Reflections (and Results!)

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Apr 25, 2019
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Professional Development

It's been over a month since 100 educators inspired us in San Francisco at the 2019 ChangeMaker Summit. We have just concluded our first set of post-conference conversations. Teacher have been busy in the last month fine-tuning their courses and advocating for more access to financial education at their school, district and state levels. They are truly making change happen! 

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Here are the contemporaneous impressions of the summit from Beth Tallman: 

I was charged with gathering key takeaways from the 100 attendees at the NGPF 2019 Changemaker Summit March 15-17 in San Francisco.    I will attempt to summarize them for you. Many folks wanted some time to process all that they were taking in. Others responded right away. We’ll start with Cindy Renee Snead from Virginia.  Her first response was simply “OMG!”

For those of you that have experienced an NGPF Summit, you appreciate what an uplifting and motivating experience it is.  You are surrounded by financial educators who are at least as motivated as you are to make a difference in the lives of your students.  You also receive first-class treatment for the entire weekend. NGPF recognizes that you are giving up a precious weekend for professional development, and they treat you with the respect you deserve.  The second takeaway from Cindy summed it up this way: “You get the reverence you don’t get at school.” Sadly, this resonates with many.

In reviewing recordings of conversations at my lunch table on the closing day, hoping to pick up more gems like Cindy’s, I was struck by what I will claim as my overarching takeaway.  The networking that was taking place was unlike any I have experienced professionally. Every conversation was focused on advocacy, either directly or indirectly. In one conversation people were sharing how they were going to implement what they have learned.  Others were offering suggestions on how one could tap into new networks to help grow the NGPF base of teachers. Some folks were comparing curricula and making suggestions for migrating to NGPF. And still others were suggesting dual/joint enrollment as a way to attract more students and make an even bigger difference, especially for lower income students.  

While the focus of the summit was on advocacy, we covered a lot of other ground in terms of what is new in the world of personal finance, and what is new/where to find things on the NGPF site.  The session on 403(b)’s was mentioned most often as the single most mind-blowing session. While this session directly helped teachers with their own retirement planning, it actually offered many teachers a vehicle to approach other teachers in their districts to share this important information, and thereby start a conversation in general about personal finance in their school.

  • Nick Vassolo (Illinois) didn’t need to be sold on the NGPF curriculum, but what he walked away from the conference with was the “ability to build within himself the skills to advocate for the his school district to make personal finance a graduation requirement.”
  • Wayne Goulet (Vermont) learned something new from NGPF Fellows Brian Page (Ohio) and Laurie Gardner (Michigan) of using a newsletter to get the word out to parents (and potentially local media) about what is going on in his classroom. Parent contact is always on his “to-do” list, and use of a newsletter will be an efficient way to tick that item off of his list.
  • Jeff Zirkle (North Carolina) walked away understanding that you have to be willing to learn to be an effective teacher.  He is determined to make his practice better than anyone else. Jeff brought up the notion of persistence, which lined up with Aaron Standish of Florida, whose takeaways were “never stop advocating” and “it isn’t insurmountable!”  Robert Newton (Maryland) felt excited about the tools he could take back to his school. He found it extremely helpful to have made connections with others who are or have been in the same situation he finds himself.
  • Courtney Poquette (Vermont) commented that “Adults wish they learned this, students want this, and now there's a group of committed individuals from across the United States working to provide this to every student in our country!
  • And Steve Penley (Illinois) was struck by “the continued development and growth of a professional community dedicated to the advancement of personal financial education for the benefit of students and society.”

The energy at this conference was palpable and infectious.  At the end, every single teacher stood up and vowed to go home and advocate for personal finance in their school districts by committing to “convert” five other teachers to the cause.  It was a powerful sight. Yes, one person can make a difference, but a room full of committed educators can change the world, one classroom at a time.

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Be sure to check out the NGPF Advocacy Toolkit for resources to help you "make the case" for financial education. 

About the Author

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an M.B.A. in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducting student workshops, and developing finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.