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Champlain College offers free financial literacy course for teachers

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 8:11 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Champlain College is now offering a free course in financial literacy for Vermont teachers.

When the State Board of education adopted national financial literacy standards in 2018, Vermont schools started helping students learn about money in the classroom, but educators say more can be done.

The class at Champlain College has traditionally helped teachers, specifically at the high school level, get a crash course in financial literacy, but now it’s going one step further.

“I can’t think of a better way to fix some of the socioeconomic problems that we face as a country than teaching financial literacy education in our classrooms,” said Courtney Poquette, a business educator at Winooski High School.

She says like other forms of literacy, understanding finances only benefits the young minds who learn it. But in order to teach it, teachers need to be confident with it, and that’s exactly what one online course is set out to do.

“Give all the K-12 educators out there the confidence they need to do this well in the classroom,” said John Pelletier, the director of the Center of Financial Literacy at Champlain College.

Pelletier says because it’s online, it broadens the horizons for the program.

“When you are doing an online conference of this nature, what is really neat is I can get -- and have gotten --is national experts to participate in this that we are filming for asynchronous sessions as well as for live sessions. The goal of this is to give those tools and that knowledge to these educators to let them be successful,” Pelletier said.

Pelletier says the new online course is designed to be tracked so there are different lessons for educators. It isn’t one giant lecture and can be taken in installments. He says it focuses on translating financial concepts into everyday curriculum.

“You can integrate elements of this into mathematics. Math can be full of financial literacy,” said Pelletier.

But he says it goes beyond math. And Poquette, who has been teaching it firsthand, agrees.

“If a high school is looking at this and saying we can’t fit another course into grad requirements, then build it in where you can. Add some lessons into math class, add some lessons into history, add some lessons into English, like that’s a start,” said Poquette.

Winooski High School is considered a gold standard school, meaning all students graduate with a semester worth of personal finance, but she says even that isn’t enough.

And while schools may not be able to commit to a full class requirement, Poquette says it is about getting students interested.

“Have these small discussions that would lead into something bigger and get the students asking questions and interested,” she said.

Poquette says by educating the educators, the information can only trickle down to the minds that need it most and beyond.

“They see that this, what they are learning now, they will take with them forever and they will help the next generation too,” she said.

Pelletier also says this isn’t a program that is only for public school educators. Private schools, homeschooling parents, nonprofits and others will also have access to the free content.

The program starts March 3. Click here for more information.

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