Lois Stoll has been a Family & Consumer Sciences teacher for 25 years–22 years at Benjamin Logan High School–and she is as busy and enthusiastic about teaching as ever. "This is a great and exciting time to teach personal finance," Lois explains. "My graduating students write back to say that they use what I taught them in class every day. That's the best feedback I can get – it is education that means something to them."
Lois explains that, beginning with the class of 2014, every high school graduate in Ohio will be required to take some type of personal finance course to graduate. She is working with the Department of Education to draft academic standards for a personal finance class that can be used statewide. Lois' high school offers students one semester of a personal finance class up to 90 minutes a day.
Lois lives five minutes from her high school and is very personally vested in contributing to her rural community, where the primary employers are a major auto manufacturing plant and its subsidiaries, and agriculture. Lois anticipates a third of her students will go to college and another third will enter the workforce. She says, "My goal is to equip the kids to get their 'first' job, apartment, or car and not get into debt or have to file for bankruptcy."
In addition to teaching, Lois commits her time to other "outside" activities that keep her at the forefront of personal finance education. She serves on different committees with the Ohio Treasurer's office; chairs the annual Family Consumer Sciences Conference; takes online and seminar-style personal finance classes; and attends conferences such as the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy's National Educators Conference
In the classroom, Lois uses technology and online resources to complement the use of traditional textbooks. She recently received a grant for 25 iPads for her students so they can visit online news and personal finance sites. Lois' students regularly participate in national contests such as the University of Arizona's Family Economics & Financial Education "Take Charge" program where they use their iPads and iMovie to create a short educational video about scams. On Visa's Practical Money Skills for Life website, the kids love to play games such as Financial Football and Countdown to Retirement. Lois uses the lesson plans to supplement her own teachings. Her class LifeSmarts Challenge team has also won the Ohio championships three years in a row.
Additionally, Lois and her husband run their own farm that produces Christmas trees, grass-fed beef, and wreaths. She hires students from the school to cut and haul trees and make wreaths. This has been a great way to show her students an example of self-employment and they also get a paycheck for working. "If I can change even a few students' understanding about the importance of saving and spending wisely, then I am doing my job."
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Lois Stoll for her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy education at Benjamin Logan High School.