Joey Running, educator at West Albany High School, has been teaching for 26 years and has taken on the role as sole personal finance educator at her school for the past 12 years.
Most students come into her class with a clean slate without a lot of prior knowledge of personal finance topics. "It's important to me that I serve students with financial knowledge, because they aren't necessarily receiving it anywhere else," says Joey.
Although Joey teaches sophomore to senior grade levels, she believes that some information has a stronger impact at different ages. For example, covering the cost of college and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process is more appropriately suited for students after their freshman year. By having access to this information early on and giving it time to marinate with them sets students up to more easily make informed decisions about their finances in the future.
Joey attended the 2018 Jump$tart Educator Conference, giving her an opportunity to network and share teaching methods with other personal finance educators.
Games are one of the most important activities that Joey integrates into her classroom, including puzzles, teamwork and team building, critical thinking and problem solving. Joey makes her lessons fun and engaging, because she knows that when students genuinely engage with activities, it promotes positive retention. Her students love activities, particularly reading stories about people and learning how they overcame financial obstacles. Joey also modifies popular games such as tic tac toe, Clue, break out and corn hole to review topics, letting students participate in the games by answering personal finance questions. She integrates Visa's Practical Money Skills materials into her curriculum, including Financial Football and Financial Soccer games, and personal finance lesson plans.
The most important lesson that Joey teaches her students is that their present self is responsible for their future self, and to consider how their actions may impact their older self. "Your present self is responsible for your future self, and you have to start that process now because your future self is counting on you," Joey explains to her students.
To stress the importance of saving, Joey asks her students questions at the beginning of each class and has them respond:
"Who do you pay first?"
Students in Joey’s Personal Finance course participate in active learning activities.
A few of Joey's students who took her Personal Finance class felt that the semester-long course wasn't enough time to cover topics like investing and insurance on a deep enough level, and wanted to learn more. These students came to her wanting to know more about investing, creating a portfolio and how insurance plays into their future lives. They went to the administration to request an advanced personal finance course with the help of Joey. Starting in 2018, she now teaches an advanced Wealth Building and Management every other spring semester, all thanks to student demand.
In order to develop the curriculum for the advanced course, Joey mapped out what she thought were the most important topics to cover, collaborating with another colleague. She developed her curriculum based on what her students wanted to learn, going beyond foundational definitions of concepts to help them learn how to apply the concepts to their real life in actionable ways. In order to get the course approved, Joey presented it in front of a council including parents, students, administrators and educators to advocate the need for the course and curriculum.
Joey takes her students on field trips to expose them to financial topics in the real world.
To measure the success of her program, Joey strongly believes that interpersonal quantifications are the most important measurements of success for her students. She has always had a positive response from her students, who are excited about receiving information that they can use as a tool to help themselves financially. Many of her students keep in touch after graduating, thanking her for all she has taught them and how they have set up a 401(k) at their first job and made steps to strengthen their financial lives.
What makes her program unique, from Joey's perspective, is her energy and passion for teaching. She considers herself a lifelong learner, and applies that thirst for knowledge into her classroom. Joey believes that what is needed to improve the financial education of youth across the country comes down to empowering personal finance educators to be passionate about the topics they're teaching in order for the messages to be effective. "It's important for teachers to feel comfortable about teaching topic and to integrate storytelling, sharing and games to make it fun and engaging," says Joey.
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Joey Running on her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy at West Albany High School.