Dec 19, 2023

Teacher Talk with Heather Hahn

NGPF Distinguished Educator Heather Hahn has come full circle in the NGPF world in three short years. She learned a lot about NGPF during her five-day mandatory Economics and Personal Finance curriculum training in North Carolina in 2020, and now she trains others in the use of NGPF resources in the same program, as well as across her district and state. Read on to learn more about her story and how she makes use of NGPF resources.


Tell us about you:


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

The first real personal finance lessons I learned in life were through NGPF. My parents never talked about money and I made all of the typical mistakes managing mine as a result. I had credit card debt from college, poor budgeting skills, and didn’t start saving for retirement early enough in life. 


What makes you so passionate about financial education? 

Financial education is an equalizer for all of our students no matter what their background is. If they know the basics of money management and how to use time to their advantage, they can all live the rich lives that they dream about. 


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?

I share personal stories all the time with my students. I want them to understand how many mistakes I made in my life and learn from them. Over and over again, I relay to them how much I wished someone had told me what I’m teaching them. I have told them about the mistakes I’ve made in not saving for a supplemental retirement for the last twenty years. Not only would it benefit me once I’m no longer teaching, but it would help reduce my taxable income now. One of my students just told me today that she got her 401k set up through her employer, Starbucks. 


Tell us about your school:

Heather teaches at Northwest Guilford High School just outside of Greensboro, NC. There are about 2,000 students in her school. Heather taught Economics and Civics for 18 years. She now teaches a year-long Economics and Personal Finance class to seniors. This year’s graduating class will be the first students for whom this class was a required course. 


What are your students’ favorite classroom activities? 

My students love to do anything that involves simulations and movement. They benefit from using manipulatives like the career cards and matching colleges with their corresponding sticker prices.


When/how do you know you have gotten an important concept through to your students? 

I know that my students are learning in several different ways. One is when they give me updates on their own financial lives and tell me how our class has impacted them. For example, one student just went to the bank and moved some of his money into an 11 month CD after looking at interest rates and realizing that he was not going to earn very much by leaving it in his regular savings account. Another student asked for help with interpreting her pay stub. She wanted to know if she was going to have to file taxes this year. After completing the NGPF activity “Should They File a Tax Return?”, she got her answer. Another student was in my classroom helping a friend study for an English vocabulary quiz and one of the words was arbitrator. She looked at me and said, “Oh, that’s one of the tools that can be used in a labor dispute.” It makes my heart happy to know that they are making connections that will help them remember these things for the rest of their lives. 


Tell us about your experience with NGPF:


Which professional development opportunities have you participated in? (I know you are a Distinguished Educator.) 

I learned about NGPF in 2020 when I took the course that NC developed to train educators on the Economics and Personal Finance Curriculum. Yanely taught for 2 days of the EPF Institute and I was hooked. Immediately after that training, I started taking NGPF Certification Courses. I have completed all of them except for Consumer Skills and I hope that one is offered in the new year. Additionally, I have done numerous On-Demand modules and continue to enjoy the Virtual PD. I love the Speaker Series because there is such a variety of information to learn and it gives me the opportunity to hear from individuals that I probably wouldn’t be able to otherwise. When NGPF brought a FinCamp to Guilford County in July of 2023, I attended that also. 


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

One of my most recent adaptations was from Amanda’s Paying for College Toolkit. She does such a great job incorporating different uses of Google that I decided to adapt one of her lessons to use with my own students. In that PD, all participants had editing access to Google slides to explore different tools that dealt with paying for college. I adapted her slides for my students to look at different financial aid award letters. In small groups, they analyzed eight different financial aid award letters to determine which forms of aid were being offered, the total cost of attendance, and the resulting net price. 


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

NGPF is my go-to resource for all things personal finance. I use FinCap Fridays every week and start every class with a Question of the Day. When I need a video to help reinforce a concept, I go to the Video Library. I appreciate all of the Fine Print activities because they help students to see some of the actual documents that they will be using in their lives. I love that I can pull bits and pieces of different lessons together to make them work for what I want to do in class. My student teacher and I worked to put together a breakout box on credit/credit scores and used all NGPF activities for students to complete in order to open the locks.


Beyond the Classroom:

After taking two years of NGPF professional development courses, I became an EPF master teacher in NC. I lead the mandated training course for Economics and Personal Finance to educators across the state to help them embrace the curriculum. I do have a master’s degree in School Administration as well as National Board Certification. I’ve helped within the district with several features including the webinar and a feature in our professional development system for EPF teachers. 

Heather also let me know that Guilford County was the recipient of a Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand Grant and has a personal finance coordinator. This coordinator works with NGPF’s Tori Mansfield, and both Tori and Heather were panelists on a webinar for the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. Heather will also be featured in a professional development video being produced by her County teaching the use of NGPF resources. Heather Hahn is certainly “paying it forward” to both her students and her fellow educators. Bravo!


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.

Mail Icon

Subscribe to the blog

Join the more than 11,000 teachers who get the NGPF daily blog delivered to their inbox: