Matt Bergman had not set out to teach personal finance. He was playing football and studying to be an English teacher at Delaware Valley College when he was sidelined with an injury. As he focused more intently on his studies, Bergman realized that he was in the wrong field.
"After some soul-searching, I decided that analyzing poetry wasn't something I was passionate about. I still wanted to teach kids, but I quickly switched to a business major."
Cocalico High School in Denver, Pennsylvania is a small school in a rural community an hour from Philadelphia. When Matt Bergman showed up, they were teaching from ancient textbooks and dusty overhead projectors. After some networking, Bergman secured grant money to purchase new technology and updated his courseware with free textbooks from the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Today, Matt Bergman's personal finance students split their time between the classroom and the computer room. In class, they learn financial concepts such as budgeting, savings and investing. Students then reinforce learning at the computer, with simulations of the concepts taught as well as teaching games that include Financial Football. But that's not where the reinforcement ends.
Part of the grant money that Bergman acquired for the classroom went to the purchase of digital cameras. His students take learned concepts about personal finance to the rest of the school in the form of "Money Minute" commercials, which they script, shoot, and produce themselves.
"I read a recent study that says we retain over 90% of what we teach. My students learn not only by hearing and seeing the concepts, but by doing and teaching. It really works."
"Money Minute" commercials are edited in the school's television studio and broadcast with the morning announcements on their own television station, WCHS. Bergman's students, who are currently working on a segment about debt, will produce several more commercials throughout the school year as they strive to teach important financial concepts to peers and teachers alike.