GSHS financial literacy teacher, student recognized by Colorado’s ‘MoneyWiser’ program
Like many high school students, Mahlon Mitzel has been working a couple of jobs to make some spending money and begin saving for the future.
But it wasn’t until he took the financial literacy class at Glenwood Springs High School last year that he began learning how to manage his money.
“The class gives us a lot of necessary knowledge that we will need to be successful in life,” Mitzel said.
Mitzel recently earned one of a handful of $1,500 student scholarships awarded through the Colorado Attorney General Office’s Colorado Kids MoneyWiser program’s Financial Innovation Awards.
“It’s important to set students up for financial success, both early and later in life,” Mitzel said.
He plans to use the scholarship money for college, along with the money he’s been socking away from his jobs as a caddy at Roaring Fork Club and dishwasher at the Native Son restaurant.
In addition, Jill Wilson, who is in her sixth year teaching the financial literacy class at GSHS, was recognized with the Financial Innovation Educator Honoree Award. For her efforts, she received $3,500, which she said she will likely use for training and curriculum.
“Most of our sophomores take financial literacy at Glenwood Springs High School,” Wilson said. “Right now it’s an elective, but I would like to see the district require it, because I think it’s so important.”
The semester-long class, which includes about 220 students per year, stresses the importance of saving money and building an emergency fund, as well as how to navigate the banking system and credit reporting.
“We also talk about loans, and the principles of investing and the necessity of insurance … basic finance that everybody needs,” Wilson said.
Students will often come back to visit Wilson a few years later and say hers was one of the most important classes they took in high school.
“And, almost every adult I talk to, when I mention what I teach, will say they wish they would have had that,” Wilson said. “So, I think the message is sinking in.”
A Next Gen Personal Finance training in California two years ago helped Wilson take the curriculum to another level, she said. That’s something she can now share with other teachers in the Roaring Fork School District and across Colorado.
“When schools do decide to put a course like this into play, they need a teacher who has some kind of background, and some special interest,” Wilson said. “It’s something I’d like to see happen in all of our valley schools, so that students are not trying to guess their way through it after they graduate.”
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