Aug 28, 2023

Teacher Talk with Amanda Volz

Amanda Volz is not a new name to any NGPF devotee. You may have watched one of her Teacher Tip videos, read one of her helpful blog posts, or been lucky enough to have had her lead your professional development class!  Amanda is transitioning from full-time teacher/part-time NGPF contributor to a full-time NGPF employee as the new Director of Professional Development, and so we are marking this occasion by putting her in the Teacher Talk spotlight to recognize her distinguished teaching career.


Tell us about your teaching career 


I started teaching in 2002 and have spent my entire teaching career at St. Clair High School in St. Clair, MI. Interestingly, this is the school that I graduated from and where I met my husband (he is also a teacher!). With a Business Education degree, I have taught a plethora of courses, but my focus and passion has alway been personal finance. 


I started teaching personal finance in 2002 but it was a one-section, one-semester course called “Consumer Education.” Since then, the program has grown into 5 sections of a full-year course. Students look forward to taking the course and this is mainly due to word of mouth. They hear from other students how relevant, fun, and meaningful the course is. No other course has grown in popularity like personal finance at my school and for the past several years, it is the only course that I have taught. 


I enjoy learning about new instructional techniques and try to always teach each lesson in a creative, meaningful way. I have used the NGPF curriculum in my classroom since I discovered the organization in 2015. The NGPF Arcade and MOVE activities were definitely some of my students favorites. Interactive activities like INTERACTIVE: FICO Credit Scores and INTERACTIVE: What’s the S&P 500 created a lot of “ah ha” moments in the classroom. 


One of the best parts of being a teacher is experiencing those “ah ha” moments in the classroom. There is no better feeling than when you have a group of students who really understand an important concept and how it relates to their own life. When they apply what they have learned to their own life and start asking deeper questions, you know they have gotten it! 



Tell us about you


I gained most of my personal finance knowledge by teaching the course. Listening to podcasts, reading books, and attending professional development helped me learn more about these essential topics and bring them to my students.


The impact I have witnessed on the lives of students grew my passion for financial education. I can share so many stories of how students have used the information they learned in my course in their life. All of these experiences fuel my passion for financial education. I frequently run into past students and they express how thankful they are to have taken my course and how they are implementing the lessons they learned into their everyday lives. Parents will share the conversations that they are now having at home due to questions and information students are sharing. 

Amanda is a very humble person.  She focuses on being an excellent teacher and creating exceptional classroom experiences for her students.  Any extra energy is devoted to helping her fellow teachers do the same, mostly in her district but more recently, through NGPF as well.


I actually “googled” her to see if I could find out something about her that perhaps she wasn’t mentioning in her responses.  I saw something about the H&R Block Budget Challenge and asked her to elaborate.

One of the highlights of my teaching career is that students have won over $300,000 in scholarships through simulations, partnerships, and activities in my class. In particular, one of my students was the grand prize winner of the H&R Block Budget Challenge in 2015, winning $120,000 scholarship. The day he was announced as the national first place finisher and was presented with that check is one I will remember forever. That event put my classroom, my teaching, and my advocacy efforts in the spotlight and has allowed me to be a changemaker in the area of financial education. 

To what extent have you been involved in advocacy either locally or state-wide?


The bulk of my advocacy has been locally in my position at St. Clair High School. The word of mouth from my course led students to vote with their feet as 85% of high school seniors were graduating from St. Clair High School with a full-year personal finance course on their transcripts. Families shared stories of the kitchen table conversations they were having on topics that we covered in class. Parents would share that they were requiring ALL their kids to take personal finance. It was never hard to sell the importance of this class to adults or students in my community. Once they saw the potential they were fully invested in this course.  It was common to hear support for my position that it should be a graduation requirement in our district.  Luckily, this feeling was growing throughout Michigan. 

In May 2021, I testified to the Michigan Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee in support of HB5190, which would guarantee every Michigan student a financial education prior to graduating high school.  In June 2022, Michigan became the 14th state to guarantee a personal finance education.  It will always be a career highlight to have testified in support of this graduation requirement in Michigan.  

Tell us about your NGPF evolution from consumer of NGPF resources and Professional Development to your current position 

I connected with NGPF for the first time in 2015 at the National JumpStart Conference. At that time NGPF was a small but mighty team of 3 and I was so impressed with their curriculum. At that time, I was creating my own curriculum and scouring the internet for engaging resources. I started using their materials right away. Fun fact: I was NGPF's first teacher account! 


In 2016, I was invited to be part of the Inaugural NGPF Fellows program. That experience was one of the most inspirational in my professional life. I met the most passionate and amazing educators and we formed a bond immediately.  The network of NGPF Fellows remains one of my most important professional learning communities.  


After the Fellows program in 2016, I started becoming involved in NGPF by offering feedback on curriculum and projects, creating Teacher Tip videos, and leading professional development sessions. Over the years, I have become more and more involved.


Being part of the NGPF community changed me immensely as an educator. I became a better teacher because of the curriculum resources, professional development opportunities, overall support, and the connections I made with other educators.


I am excited to bring my 20+ years of experience teaching personal finance to be a champion for teachers and work for NGPF full-time. As the Director of Professional Development, my goal is to offer support to both new and veteran teachers so they feel confident in the classroom. Although I won’t be working with students everyday, my “classroom” just got a whole lot larger! 


This career change is surreal for me in that I have always been NGPF’s #1 fan. I have used their curriculum in my classroom, attended their professional development training, and been an active member of the community. I am the type of person that puts 100% into everything that I do and professionally that was to be the best teacher to my students and an instructional leader in financial education. NGPF helped me do that and I am so honored to inspire and help other teachers be the best they can be in the classroom. 


At this critical time with the progress of Mission 2030, success of the Mission will require NGPF to meet new demand for Professional Development support to teachers in all of the states with new requirements.  Amanda Volz is an excellent choice to help with that effort.  Amanda  has improved the lives of so many students and their families over her twenty years of teaching.  Having been NGPF’s first teacher account and #1 fan, it will be exciting to watch as Amanda now applies 100% of her focus and energy on helping others be equally successful as personal finance educators as a part of the NGPF team. Congratulations!

About the Author

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA 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, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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