Teacher Talk with Christopher Jackson
Christopher Jackson’s mission in education is to create “next-door millionaires.” He has been inspired by Leon Howard, also known as the Wall Street Trapper, who says “With the right information and education it will change your conversation, which will change your compensation and ultimately change your realization.” As Chris puts it, “You can’t play the money game if you don’t know the rules,” and he is determined to teach this generation those rules in order to break the cycle that keeps people from living well. Read on to find out more about Chris, his school, his students, and his experience with NGPF.
Early Financial Experiences
- Where/how were you first exposed to personal finance lessons in your life?
I was exposed to “lessons” about personal finance in my early twenties. I was making a good amount of money yet, I did not have the formal “lessons” in personal finance. I, therefore, made many financially illiterate decisions with my money and lost valuable investing time and nothing to show for it.
He relates the following story to his students to drive home the importance of gaining this knowledge at an early age:
I share with my students that during my senior year in college, Amazon opened for business. I proceeded to purchase and sell books using its online store. Two years later, Amazon went public at $18 dollars a share. During that time, I was earning large sums of money, yet did not have the financial education or information to change my conversation about how I should utilize my monthly large sums of money. Unfortunately, I did not sustain that level of compensation, which drastically changed my realization. If I had invested 10,000 dollars in Amazon stock, which I had at that time, it would have bought me 555 shares. Today, those shares are worth $16,454,196. When I reveal this to them, that is the moment they realize they must seize the opportunity of time in the market.
School and Students
Chris teaches at DaVinci Communications in El Segundo, California, near Los Angeles Airport. It is a public charter school with 500 plus students from all over the LA area who are chosen by lottery. They represent a wide range of socio-economic classes. The curriculum is project-based. Chris teaches Personal Finance and College and Career Readiness to 17-18 year old seniors. He helps them figure out why they are here and what they are good at as well as teaching them the rules of money.
- What are your students' favorite classroom activities?
My students’ favorite classroom activities are playing two financial arcade games that NGPF provides, STAX and Shady Sam. While playing STAX, students become overwhelmed and emotionally involved when they are exposed to the many investment opportunities provided to them and witness their investments gain or lose in their returns. It is an emotional rollercoaster while educating students about the different types of assets and how to use them.
- When/how do you know you have gotten an important concept through to your students? Would you like to give an example?
Every school year, I am blessed with the opportunity to produce 130 new next-door millionaires and release them as producers of the United States economy. When I teach our investing unit before graduation, my goal is to have everyone in that graduating class open their ROTH IRA and begin investing toward their pathway to wealth. I want my students to benefit from my lack of knowledge for not investing when I was their age. Every spring when I see my students open their investing accounts, I know the seed of financial freedom and prosperity has germinated and begun to grow deep roots in their minds. By changing the way my students thought earlier in the year, I was able to change their behavior later in the year.
Chris also told me the story of teaching his students to examine the benefits offered by an employer, and they should be on the lookout for 401k and matching opportunities. One of his students had recently quit a job but went back and discovered that indeed, she had a 401k that no one had told her about. She claimed her balance and transferred it into the Roth IRA that she had opened in class!!!
- Which professional development opportunities have you participated in
I have participated in almost every professional development opportunity NGPF has offered. Since it is my mission to produce next-door millionaires, I binge on NGPF professional developments. I am always striving to be a better teacher, therefore, the more knowledge and skills I acquire so will my students.
- Which one has been your favorite so far? Why?
I have two: NGPF Educators’ Conference and the Advanced Investing Certification Coarse
I recently attended NGPF Educators’ Conference: Closing the Financial Education Gap held in San Francisco. This conference allowed me to recharge and to gain new ideas and concepts to teach personal finance among my fellow financial literacy advocates.
After taking the advanced investing certification course, it immediately changed the way I thought and spoke about money. I felt like a world-renowned painter discovering new ways to manipulate the bristles on my paintbrush.
- Can you fill us in on an example of how you have incorporated something you learned from a PD session into your lesson plans?
The MOVE activities from NGPF have allowed students to use multiple scenes when learning difficult concepts. For example, I have used the activity Organize a Stock Market Index to help students understand the inside of the market index and how different types of index funds are created. This ultimately makes it easier for students to make their first investment when they open their ROTH IRA.
- What NGPF resources are your favorites/do you rely on the most for your lesson planning?
I rely on the semester course unit plans. These plans are just the right time length, depth of knowledge, and complexity to give students a solid financial literacy foundation that will bring light to their pathway to wealth.