Kaiser Elementary School science teacher Kellie Haayer is using her 25 years of teaching experience to revitalize the Texas Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy as its president. Haayer has been attending the annual Jump$tart National Educator Conference since 2009, and was approached a year ago by a national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy member to lead the reinvigoration of the state coalition.
As an elementary school educator, Haayer has taught financial skills for 6 years, and incorporates it into her lesson plans for both reading and science. She teaches basic financial life lessons such as differentiating "wants and needs" through storytelling sessions using books, the Avengers Saving the Day comic book, hands-on activities, and iBooks.
In addition to her role as a teacher, she has taken on the duties as president for her state's Coalition and has led the process of rebuilding it from the ground up, including a diverse set of officers and board members.
One of the state coalition's major goals is to build a presence at the 2016 Jump$tart National Educators Conference in Dallas in November. The goal is to sponsor Texas teachers for scholarships and pay for their registration fees for the Conference to get the message to educators about financial literacy.
"I feel students will highly benefit from any teacher that is able to attend the Jump$tart National Educator Conference. By attending the conference teachers are able to network with others who deal with the same issues they are dealing with - both positive and negative. As a teacher who has attended the conference in the past, I came back highly motivated to put financial literacy in my curriculum in each and every way possible," explains Haayer.
"I love my job," said Haayer, but she recognizes that one of the largest issues teaching financial literacy is teacher's lack of background in financial education. "We have to get to teachers first and give them the confidence to know how to teach the topic of financial literacy. Many teachers are 'volun-told' they are teaching it and not coming in as experts in the field. It is nerve wracking teaching a subject matter you are not comfortable with."
Haayer aims to give teachers the confidence to teach financial literacy by educating them directly through Coalition outreach. Haayer bridges an important gap between financial literacy and financial education in Texas, and brings a unique perspective to the Coalition as a teacher.
Through her teaching, she tries to make financial literacy relevant and engaging by finding "some way to tie it into their life. Connecting it to their life or the life of their parents makes it easier to grab on to," said Haayer.
The lessons are not lost on her 8-year old twins who she overheard debating about a basic financial concept after learning about it in her classroom. "One of them questioned the other if something they wanted to buy was a want or a need. 'But I really want it!' one twin said to the other. 'But you don't have enough saved to get it. Save some money and you can get it later."
Haayer taught long term saving, budgeting, and spending with overfishing an area of water to her 5th grade class. The students were taught about overfishing an area and how that leads to fish being unable to repopulate for the following fishing season. Students were given a specific amount of goldfish in their pond and a straw to suck up as many as they could in 30 seconds. Factors in this activity included financial fines for over fishing, varying seasons, and spending and saving money.
To teach students about saving money and taking out loans, Haayer uses the picture book One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway. The book follows the story of a young boy in a small African village who takes a loan out to buy a hen, and eventually becomes the largest producer of chickens in West Africa. Her students took the initiatives to write their own class book after reading the story. Haayer experiences the success of her teachings first hand when her students come back and talk about a lesson and how they used it in their life, such as planning ahead for a book fair and saving up money to buy a book.
Through her teaching experience, Haayer aims to raise awareness for the Coalition's efforts rebuilding the program and the new economic and personal finance education standards in Texas K-12. Texas is currently one of eight states that fulfill all economic education standards, and one of five to fulfill all personal finance education standards, including K-12 standards required to be implemented by the district, a high school course required to be offered and taken, and standardized testing.
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Kellie Haayer for her ongoing commitment to financial literacy at Kaiser Elementary School in Houston, TX, and her involvement with Texas Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy.