Jennifer Haymes is a business and marketing teacher and Finance Academy program coordinator at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, NC. After obtaining a college degree in business management, she began a career in sales for a year. Soon thereafter, she discovered teaching. She says, "Teaching was not on my radar of things to do. But I've fallen in love with this profession. I can teach what I love learning. I never knew this career was out there. This is what I am meant to do."
This passion and energy is apparent in every aspect of Jennifer's work. When she took over the Finance Academy program at East Forsyth seven years ago, 10-15 students were enrolled. Now, the program has grown to over 180 students. Jennifer explains that since 2010, there has been increasing emphasis in North Carolina on incorporating personal finance in the classroom. Recently, her Finance Academy was recognized as a state "best practice" by the North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell and the State Superintendent June Atkinson.
The Finance Academy is geared towards 10th-12th grade students who have an interest in business and personal finance. Students apply in 9th grade by filling out an application and participating in an interview. In addition to regular classes, participants take certain classes together for the remainder of their high school years to create "a family of students with the same goals and aspirations." The students are required to take classes about the principles of business and finance, civics and economics, accounting, international business and financial planning.
Jennifer says the key to her success is creating "fun and cool" lesson plans for her students that cover a range of topics including saving, investing, budgeting, balancing a checkbook, interest rates, loans, credit cards and scores, student and car loans, economics and retirement planning. With the financial assistance of a local bank, Jennifer's students use EverFi's (http://www.everfi.com/) set of online learning modules. At the end of each module, students take a test and that certifies them as "financially literate."
She also created a customized virtual stock market game using HowtheMarketWorks.com (http://www.howthemarketworks.com/). The 11th graders read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which prompts discussions of different financial concepts and investing. Students take regular field trips to visit local businesses, banks, and credit unions, which have led to paid internships - another requirement for Academy participants. And, every other year, they take a trip to New York to visit the Stock Market and Federal Reserve. Jennifer creates most of her own lesson plans but relies on resources such as Practical Money Skills for Life for supplemental worksheets and materials.
Jennifer reads the Wall Street Journal or the local business section in her newspaper every day to stay current, as well as books like Steve Jobs' biography. She also watches business news and money shows on CNN and CNBC, specifically, the Suze Orman and Jim Kramer shows.
Jennifer has two tips to share when teaching kids about money: 1) bring in real-life scenarios so the lesson is relevant to them and 2) use lesson plan-sharing sites such as Moodle (http://moodle.com/), so you can see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms.
"I was lucky enough to have parents who talked to me about money all the time," Jennifer says. "I was very informed and money did not scare me. I found out that money scares young people, so I teach my students that everything you do with money is a choice. Making good choices will make their futures less scary."
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Jennifer Haymes for her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy education at East Forsyth High School.