From a Class to a Career
According to Tom Baldassari, Vice President and Compliance Officer of Cameron State Bank in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the FDIC’s Money Smart program has changed at least one life long-term.
Baldassari told the story of a young woman in a Money Smart class that he had taught. The class was composed of students of all ages. There was one young lady who stood out from her classmates, asking lots of questions and demonstrating a real eagerness to learn. “After one class she came up to me, and we talked,” Baldassari said. “I asked her why she was in the class. She told me that she was a high school drop-out who had recently moved back home. She was taking classes to earn her GED and saw our ads for the Money Smart program. She wanted to learn more about managing her money so she signed up for the course. She completed the six-week course, and I never expected to see her again.”
But that’s where the story gets really interesting: “I was in our main office recently,” Baldassari continued. When I walked by the teller line, I heard a voice say, ‘Hi, Mr. Tom.’ Yes, sure enough, it was the same young woman, now working for our bank.”
Computer Classes Teach Financial Skills Too
Computer students in the Mendocino [California] Unified School District now learn financial life skills during classes with computer applications specialist Kathy Wylie.
Wylie’s students master standard computer software by working on projects. To make these projects more real, Wylie decided to incorporate Money Smart materials into her lessons.
Before beginning a career as a vocational education teacher Wylie had managed a real estate brokerage. In that career she had seen prospective buyers who had little understanding of how to handle their money. Small financial mistakes prevented them from being able to buy a house, she said. Thus, when thinking about student computer projects she decided that she wanted to arm her students not just with computer skills but also with life skills that could protect them when facing common financial temptations.
A special Web site that Wylie built - http://mhs.mcn.org/~moneysmart/ - exemplifies her approach to adapting Money Smart to her classes, which range from 9th- through 12th-grades.
Her students may be very sophisticated about using computers, but they are very unsophisticated about managing their money. Wylie says that “Teenagers can be jolted when they learn that a mortgage runs for 30 years, an unimaginable length of time for a 17-year-old.” Many students are shocked when they discover how small mistakes can derail future plans. Wylie also encourages her students to talk with their parents about managing money.
The in-class reward is seeing her students experience an “aha” moment as they understand the need to protect their credit. Wylie said a longer-term reward is the students who come back from college and tell her, “I wished that I’d listened better. This stuff is really important!”