Oct 31, 2023

Teacher Talk with Charisse Woodward

Charisse Woodward’s enthusiasm for teaching her students all about money was evident immediately during our conversation the other day, and shines through in her responses.  She strives to provide an engaging classroom experience for them, leaning on her education and life experience (with a little help from the NGPF curriculum and professional development.) We wanted to recognize Charisse for completing both of the Arizona State Courses to earn an Investment Management Certificate. Read on to learn more about Charisse and her life as a personal finance/business educator.


Tell us about you


  • Where/how were you first exposed to personal finance lessons in your life?


Growing up, I witnessed my mother working tirelessly at three jobs, while my father often sent money to his family. Their dedication to providing for our family instilled a strong work ethic in me. However, relying solely on multiple jobs or outside sources of income can lead to burnout, financial instability, and a lack of long-term financial planning. Unfortunately, this became a reality when my father passed away, and my mother struggled to cope emotionally and financially. This experience led me to realize the importance of personal finance and developing healthy financial habits. It wasn't until I started working in retail banking that I saw firsthand how people from all walks of life handle their finances.


  • What makes you so passionate about financial education?


As a single mother, it can be challenging to juggle work and family, but my passion for personal finance and being a positive role model for my daughters is what keeps me focused. I understand that managing my money effectively is crucial to providing for my girls, saving for emergencies, and planning for the future. That's why I prioritize personal finance as a critical aspect of my life.


  • Do you ever share personal finance anecdotes from your own experience with your students? If so, care to share one that seems to make an impression on them with your fellow educators?


In my classroom, I often share personal life lessons with my students. One of the most important lessons I impart is that financial decisions must be treated like business decisions. We never know what the future holds, whether it's divorce, death, or any other unexpected event. Therefore, I always encourage my students to be proactive and make wise financial decisions that demonstrate their love for their family and loved ones. It's important to take off the rose-colored glasses and approach each financial decision with practicality and care. 


Charisse shares the college experience she is having with one of her daughters who got an Associate’s degree locally to save money, but just started at High Point University to complete her Bachelor’s degree. The tuition and fees add up!


Tell us about your school


  • Please describe your school for us (location/size/community).


Sherando High School is a public high school located in Stephens City, Virginia. It serves as one of three high schools in Frederick County Public Schools. In terms of the community economic details, Stephens City is a small town that is home to a mix of both blue-collar and white-collar workers. The median household income in Stephens City is around $64,000, which is slightly higher than the national average. The town has a mix of both small businesses and larger chain stores, providing a variety of employment opportunities for residents. Overall, Sherando High School is an important part of the Stephens City community, providing education and opportunities for local students to prepare for their future careers.


Charisse actually grew up in a nearby community, Winchester Virginia, which makes this community like home for her.


  • What class(es) do you teach, and what age are your students?


As an educator, I teach Economics and Personal Finance to 11th and 12th-grade students, along with dual-enrolled Business Management and a Career Strategies course. Furthermore, I function as a Work Based Learning Coordinator for students who are Cooping out of one of the Business and Information Technology courses. My role involves helping students develop skills and experiences that will aid them in their future careers.


  • What are your students’ favorite classroom activities?


The most beloved class activities among my students are those that involve interaction with peers and physical movement within the classroom or school premises. Students love to learn while having fun, and being tricked into learning is one of the best ways to achieve this.


I asked Charisse about the students’ favorite NGPF activities. She explains the student’s experience with the MOVE activity “Your Tax dollar in Action” and the Fiscal Ship game below, but generally the documentaries and Arcade games have been “eye opening” for them. For example, Cat Insanity really drove home the dangers of compound interest when it comes to credit, and “Spent” taught them to be prepared for the times when life happens and your best plans get derailed.


  • When/how do you know you have gotten an important concept through to your students? Would you like to give an example?


It's clear to me that my students have grasped a concept when we move on to the next lesson and someone asks a question. When a peer responds with the correct answer, starting their explanation with "remember when we," it's a sign of true concept mastery.

One example of concept mastery occurred this year when we introduced the Taxes unit and the MOVE: Your Tax Dollar in Action activity. Students delved into the amounts and programs that our federal tax dollars support. Later in the unit, we integrated Fiscal Policy by having students play the Fiscal Ship game. While balancing their economic goals and reducing the national debt, they quickly realized the importance of every penny and the critical nature of every program. They experienced a moment of understanding that elected officials often struggle to deliver on campaign promises while attempting to avoid growing the national debt.


Tell us about your experience with NGPF


In the fall of 2019, a colleague recommended NGPF to me, suggesting that I incorporate their materials and mapping into my curriculum. Little did I know, I would come to rely on NGPF even more during the pandemic. The lessons, activities, Data Crunches, Podcasts, and Professional Development resources are all fantastic. It's safe to say that NGPF has truly made my life easier.


  • Which professional development opportunities have you participated in? 

I've taken advantage of every learning opportunity that has come my way, from Saturday Conferences to On-Demand Sessions to the ASU courses. NGPF provides exceptional opportunities for growth and learning, and I'm grateful for all of them.


  • Can you fill us in on an example of how you have incorporated something you learned from a PD session into your lesson plans?

Earlier this month, I had the privilege to attend the NGPF Virtual PD, which was facilitated by Yanely Espinal, featuring Chris Corinthian, Founder/CEO of FinLit University. It was an amazing experience, and I learned a lot. A few weeks later, I assigned my students the task of creating a savings goal, and I was thrilled to see that many of them had chosen to focus on their college education. They had even broken down the goal into months, weeks, and daily amounts. Some of them even decided it would be necessary to pick up a sport and apply for scholarships to achieve their goal. I am excited to share what I learned from the podcast with my students, so I am jumping right into the Paying for College Unit. Although my NGPF credits are looking low this year due to my focus on two ASU courses, I plan to jump back in once my second course is finished to earn the Senior status of credits.


  • What NGPF resources are your favorites/do you rely on the most for your lesson planning?

The NGPF website is an excellent tool that I frequently use to enhance the educational experience of my students. Here is how I use it:

  • Access lessons to create daily lesson plans
  • Keep parents informed about the classroom content coverage through parent newsletters
  • Use the video list for documentaries and substitute plans
  • Utilize the arcade games and professional development resources

  • Can you tell us how you ended up taking the ASU Investment Management Certificate? How was it?

After receiving an email regarding the Investment Management course, I was immediately intrigued. Having completed the two prerequisites, I attended the Zoom Information Session and was thrilled to learn more about the program. As someone who is passionate about personal finance, I was eager to expand my investment knowledge. After all, I graduated from college in 2002 and feel that much has changed in the world of personal finance since then. I can confidently say that the ASU Investment Management course was the best online course I have ever taken. Unlike other programs, there was no requirement to respond to discussion boards, which meant I could work on the course at my own pace. That being said, the videos were easy to follow, and the examples provided were relevant and meaningful. I could even revisit areas that I struggled with. Overall, this was a truly professional online course that exceeded my expectations.


I was curious and asked more about the details of the ASU program. You complete two online courses, Risk Management and Investment Management, to earn the Certificate. The classes are designed for educators, and gave Charisse that much more confidence when it comes to teaching her students about Investing. Congratulations, Charisse!

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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