Classes in personal finance have been available at OHS for many years as elective credits however, starting with this year’s Freshman class, Personal Finance will now be a requirement of graduation. The class has evolved over the years but the primary goal is to start high school students thinking about money management, savings, credit and controlling their own finances after high school.
OHS Staff have developed an advisory team to help guide curriculum planning and incorporate local business leaders from the financial sector. Mentors like Tim Duchow and Kristen Metcalf, both from Robert W. Baird & Co., serve on the advisory committee and work directly with students. “I would challenge anyone to name a high school course that is more important than personal finance,” said Tim Duchow, Senior Vice President at Baird. “No matter your final education level or ultimate vocation, personal finance touches every person, every day, for the rest of their life,” he added.
OHS Staff and the advisory committee started curriculum planning by looking at data and financial trends, especially for young people. It was clear that credit and debt should be a large focus of the course, which is the topic they started with in September. “The kids need to understand the pitfalls of consumer debt right away, it is one of the biggest problems our economy faces and it’s growing every day,” said Duchow. “We want students to be educated on the choices they’re making in regards to finance,” said Kyla Stefan, OHS Business Education Teacher. “We know that students won’t always make the best choice, but teaching them about their options and guiding them through financial decision making is key.”
Through the course, students will learn about different types of credit, managing credit, budgeting, savings, taxes, insurance, and investing. “The power of investing early and the power of compounding is important for students to begin to understand too, anyone can control their own financial destiny if they follow some basic rules,” said Duchow.
The Personal Finance course will continue to evolve and seek partnerships with local business and finance leaders like Duchow and Metcalf. These professionals help provide real-life insight and experience to help students better understand financial concepts and decision-making. “I love teaching personal finance because it’s something that all students will use in the near future and they can easily see its value beyond high school,” said Kyla Stefan. Students will leave the course with relevant strategies to make sound financial decisions in the future.
Tim Duchow (left) with Shaun H. (middle) and Ryan H. (right) in the OHS Personal Finance Class. Duchow is mentoring students on an investment plan they created for their class work.
Mark Gustin (right) with Hannah B. (left) and Brianna B. (middle) in the OHS Personal Finance Class. Gustin is mentoring students on a savings plan they created for their class work.