Michele Casey has been teaching financial literacy since it became a state-mandated graduation requirement at Syracuse High School in Syracuse, Utah, in 2008. In addition to financial literacy, she also teaches accounting and desktop publishing. In total, she has taught over 1,600 students.
Both 11th and 12th graders take Michele's financial literacy course. "The class continues to evolve and change each year," she says. Emphasizing the importance of financial literacy, Michele encourages her students to budget, keep track of what they spend and create an emergency savings fund. Her lessons cover financial planning, career preparation, decision-making, college preparation, savings and investments. In addition, the class itself serves as a mock economy. Students earn money for participation and can spend their money throughout the term. The amount they have remaining at the end impacts their grade.
Michele incorporates games and activities into her classroom that keep students engaged and interested in the material. "My students remember and understand concepts much better when they learn them through interactive games. It makes learning more enjoyable for them," Michele says. One such activity is a 10-week virtual stock market game. During this exercise, students are given $200,000 of virtual money to invest in the real stock market. Students research, trade and keep track of their stocks. After 10 weeks, the students who earn the most money receive prizes.
Every other year, community leaders run student workshops in an event called Business Day, created by Michele's colleague in 2008. Attendees from the community include accountants, bankers, entrepreneurs, graphic designers, lawyers and CEOs who share their knowledge and career experience with approximately 500 high school students. "It's an incredible opportunity for students to experience different perspectives about the real world. A student interested in becoming an accountant can meet professionals, ask questions and learn what their jobs are like on a daily basis. The kids get really excited about the event and learn a lot from it."
"Since I began teaching," Michele explains. "Students have emailed me when they're in college and thank me for how my classes have helped prepare them. It's great to be able to make a real difference in these students' lives."
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Michele Casey for her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy at Syracuse High School in Syracuse, Utah.