Financial literacy is an important topic for high school students to master before living independently. Blairsville High School Financial Literacy teacher, Greg Kaylor, recognized that this class was needed and petitioned his high school administration to add a mandatory Freshman Financial Literacy Seminar at his school and built a curriculum for the course he created.
After 16 years teaching mathematics, Greg found a passion for personal finance after he took courses at the Governor's Institute for Financial Education. He gained experience teaching financial literacy when he was asked back to the institute to mentor and teach financial education to other teachers. Greg was chosen out of hundreds of teachers to be part of a team that built a model curriculum for a personal finance course. "This model is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website and provides a framework for any teacher or school district who desires to implement a personal finance course and doesn't know where to start." Greg explained.
In an effort to expand his financial literacy outreach, Greg volunteers his time to teach economically disadvantaged adults. Leveraging his financial education background, Greg brought his efforts to Blairsville High School and has taught his 60-day Freshman Seminar for the past 5 years.
Greg’s Financial Literacy Seminar students review financial concepts online.
Freshmen entering Greg's course often have little knowledge of financial concepts. Some students were even surprised that it wasn't normal to max out multiple credit cards and were unaware of the importance of using credit wisely. Throughout his course, Greg emphasizes that "it's not about how much you earn, it's about how much you keep." Primary topics in his course include the time value of money, managing daily expenses, understanding wants versus needs, protecting yourself from scams and building credit.
Integrating innovative tools to supplement his course, Greg utilizes tablets provided by the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and online lesson modules to help his students learn basic financial concepts. The independent nature of most lessons allows Greg to personally assist his students and answer any questions they may have. In addition to the modules, he uses Visa's Financial Football and Practical Money Skills' online resources, which allow his students to learn about financial pitfalls that they can avoid in their own lives with fun and engaging tools.
During his course, students also create videos on financial topics such as how to identify and avoid online scams. Students are allowed to include their friends and family and film outside of class, allowing students to take their learning into the real world. Greg also hosts guest speakers on Skype, including banking representatives on the inner workings of financial institutions, gambling counselors on how kids who are exposed to it too early are more inclined to build debt and financial education consultants on the importance of setting a budget and adhering to it. Hearing from these speakers allows his students to gain insight into the financial world and ask important questions from experts in their fields. Greg's efforts have helped his students become more aware of their spending and the financial habits necessary to succeed.
Students in Greg’s Financial Literacy Seminar work together on financial exercises.
While the course is currently only offered to freshman and tailored for their stage of life, Greg believes that juniors and seniors would greatly benefit from a standalone financial literacy course. "Certain topics are more real for them, such as living independently," Greg explains. Juniors and seniors are on the brink of independent life and financial literacy is significantly more applicable to their personal situations. He is working to petition for a mandatory junior or senior semester-long course. Greg continues to perfect his freshman course in order to prepare for its transformation to the junior or senior course. He aims to establish the upper level course at Blairsville High School within a couple of years.
In order to improve the financial literacy of youth across the country, Greg says financial education needs to be established as a top priority. He mentions that "when students take ownership of what they learn in school and go home and initiate discussions with their parents, that is one of the best things I can ever hear."
He believes instigating these conversations and supporting the financial organizations and courses that create them will cause a positive ripple effect on financial situations and youth across the country.
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Greg Kaylor on his ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy at Blairsville High School.