Name: Courtney Poquette
School: Winooski High School, Winooski, VT
Grade levels: 9-12
Years as an educator: 16
MAKING MONEY MATTER
Jump$tart Staff: "How do you make money matter to your students?"
Courtney: "I think it’s important to set the stage on the very first day, so every student sees that they are capable of achieving financial goals. I do this by welcoming students to my class with a check for a million dollars and asking what they would do with it. It’s a great opportunity to discuss what we value and also point out the power of compound interest and returns on investments on the first day. We then break down the steps to get there and talk about how they have a HUGE advantage of time on their hands to make this a reality. In addition, I weave in personal stories and am not afraid to share financial mistakes I have made with the students. Personal stories really stick and are the things they remember most, after they leave the class."
FINANCIAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENT
Jump$tart Staff: "What is the financial education requirement in your state?"
Courtney: "Vermont is tricky because we are under local control. This means each school district gets to decide their own graduation requirements. The Agency of Education adopted the National Jump$tart Standards, with the expectation that they are taught K-12. However, it’s up to each school to decide where and how each of these standards are implemented. Over the past few years, I have worked with the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College, the Agency of Education and a group of K-12 teachers from across the state to roll out this grade level specific curriculum to teachers, at no cost, thanks to various sponsors."
CALLED TO TEACH
Jump$tart Staff: "Can you describe your calling to teach?"
Courtney: "My mom still tells me that she’s shocked I’m a teacher because I really did not enjoy high school. I think this is why I love teaching Personal Finance so much because for me school wasn't relevant, but this is. I never have a student ask “when am I going to use this?” Most of the time they say 'thank you for teaching me this.' After graduating with a degree in business, I had a job which allowed me to travel a bit, but also required lots of time in a cubicle. I was looking for something that was 'fun, rewarding and challenging.' I applied for a few Business Education positions and was so excited to get the opportunity to teach, while also working towards my teaching endorsement. I think that my days in the classroom continue to meet those expectations and I have had to learn to try to focus on the “fun and rewarding'', more so than the challenges over the past few years."
Jump$tart Staff: "What are your go-to resources for teaching personal finance?"
Courtney: "I love to tinker with lessons, experiment and adapt, so for me I love NextGen Personal Finance’s curriculum as a starting point for ideas. It allows me to follow along with the course outline, but then I can take each activity and modify it to meet the needs of my students. I love utilizing nearpod for instruction, as it’s great for both my hybrid and in-person students. It provides the opportunity to check for understanding multiple times through a lesson, as well as build in games to make class fun. I mix this with a lot of personalized activities that I have developed for students over the years. I would much rather students jump online and research and shop for their own car, than one that I have selected for them. I love hands-on games and videos, as students at all levels can connect with them. Students will tell me the games they remember long after the class is finished are: STAX simulation from NGPF, Dave Ramsey’s Act Your Wage game, and Awesome Island, which is out of production now, but a great simulation of how net worth builds over time."
ABOUT THE NEC
Jump$tart Staff: How does the NEC effect your teaching?
Courtney: "The Jump$tart conferences at the national level are AMAZING! I actually volunteered to help my state plan and organize our last in person conference too, which was so rewarding to see it all come together. I am all for connecting with other like-minded individuals to improve our practices. At times, being the only person in a content area within a school can be frustrating. However, when I get together with these rockstar teachers from all across the country, it motivates me to improve my own practices. I am so appreciative of all the sponsors, exhibits and workshops where we can gain hands-on practical experience to bring back to our classroom. I also love connecting with other teachers and hearing about the work they are doing in their classrooms. It is such an incredibly valuable learning experience, which I would highly recommend to new teachers and veterans alike."
Jump$tart Staff: "You have an eBay business and are an Independent Senior Director with Color Street too, how does this help you teach Personal Finance?"
Courtney: "As a business educator, I feel like I should experience the things that I am teaching students, so I love to share examples from my businesses in my Entrepreneurship classes. I also recognize that workplaces are shifting and the gig economy is growing in popularity. I love to teach students ways in which I increase my income, in addition to my job. It is also important to share the pros and cons of the gig economy and what you have to plan for, financially, if this is going to be their primary source of income."