Medina High School Students Learn About Financial Literacy
As part of the strategic planning process, the District has worked with the community to gain feedback on what they felt important to provide students with a well-rounded education that will not only be a benefit academically but offer real-world knowledge.
This school year, several electives were added to the Medina High School course selections; one of them being Financial Literacy. Erin Vleugels, social studies teacher at Medina High School, is one of the teachers of this course. Prior to it standing on its own, it was part of Economics, an elective course offered at the high school. “This course covered the topic but did not go into great depth,” said Vleugels. She approached Jeff Harrison, principal, Medina High School, and Carrie Schreck, college and career counselor at the high school about the idea of moving specifically to a class focused on financial literacy and making it a requirement for graduation based on community input during the strategic planning process in 2016. “The social studies department was up for the change and worked together on constructing a robust curriculum,” Vleugels continued.
Today, Financial Literacy is taken by all junior year students, and a few senior students this year. What are students learning? “They are learning everything from personal budgeting and saving to living with roommates, paying for college, filing taxes, investing, obtaining a loan for a car or a mortgage, debt management, and the pitfalls of predatory lending, bankruptcy, credit reports and credit scores and what it all means,” shared Vleugels.
In addition to the many real-world scenarios presented, one of the projects they work on during the semester-long course is tracking stocks. Each student is provided with a virtual $25,000 to invest. They learn about the indexes, diversification of their portfolios with the goal of working to outperforming the portfolio of the teacher.
Currently, approximately 600 students are enrolled in the course throughout the school year with five teachers at the high school presenting the subject. “Kids are responding well to the program. At the beginning of the class, I ask each student to write a letter to me talking about what they would like to gain from the course. One student who, after the discussion about direct deposit options, went home and talked to her dad. He then took her to the bank, set up an account so she could utilize direct deposit and learn how to manage a debit card,” explained Vleugels.
This being the first year for the course, the teachers will collaboratively review the curriculum, see what best serves the students and incorporate additional projects and subject matter to continue to improve the curriculum working to send students out into the real world with their best foot forward.