Managing money: BG DECA students teach financial literacy


Bowling Green Middle School eighth graders recently got lessons in money management.

In February, Bowling Green High School DECA members started teaching financial literacy to middle school students in Matt Kern’s money management class.

The 24 senior DECA members met with 25 middle school students every Tuesday and Friday and taught in small groups.

Topics covered included the value of saving money, calculating simple interests, and different types of savings/investment accounts.

Data from Kern’s money management class’s final exam – with the DECA assistance — was compared to last year and showed an improvement.

“At the conclusion of the project, the data collected indicated that we raised the semester score by 8%,” said Audrey Geyman, who developed the idea for her DECA class. “More importantly, we believe the students were able to increase the semester grade because they were able to get one on one help from the DECA members.”

Geyman and Peyton Green said they found a DECA project that could teach middle schoolers financial literacy and they asked DECA adviser Cara Maxey for approval.

“I think in this process as much as we’re teaching the middle schoolers, we’re also teaching ourselves,” said Tyler Thompson, who is a senior.

A lot of topics they’ve talked about in high school (for example, compound interest), he knew but some of the savings for retirement and 401(K) accounts, he did not know about.

“I think this process has both taught the high schoolers and middle schoolers about savings options,” Tyler Thompson said.

He said he has learned the concept of paying himself first, with a portion of his paycheck going into a savings account.

While there may not be real work applicability with some classes, money management sets you up for a good future, Thompson said.

Eighth grader Henry Klima said he has learned how to calculate compound interest and it’s really helping him so much because it’s helping him understand better. He said he now plans to save for the future.

“It’s good to save now because we can earn money in the future,” he said.

Klima said while the class was mandatory, he didn’t know they would be working with the DECA students, and he felt the partnership should be done more often.

“I think this is a really important thing that not only middle schoolers need to know but also high schoolers,” said DECA senior Londyn Thompson.

Londyn Thompson and Tyler Thompson are not related.

“This class is really great to build the knowledge of money and saving,” Londyn Thompson said.

DECA is a great program to get people involved with volunteer initiatives, she said.

Her parents had taught her to save her money, so she was familiar with banking and saving but she didn’t know the technicalities, such as interest earnings and bonds, which is what they are teaching the younger students.

Londyn Thompson said when she was in middle school, these classes weren’t available but if they had been she definitely would have taken them. She appreciated they were now available.

“I think it’s very important to learn anytime in life, and especially when you’re young, and I think it’s good to have in middle school and it also should be in high school as well because you use it more when you’re in high school when you get a job,” she said.

Eighth grader Maddy Evans said she knew nothing about how to save money before the DECA lessons.

“But now I’m a lot more familiar with it and I think it’s helped a lot,” she said.

She said she now understands that by saving now, she will benefit later.

Geyman explained she was looking through different projects to do when she saw this literacy project “and I was like, ‘Peyton, we should do this.’”

They got approval from Maxey and middle school Principal Eric Radabaugh.

Geyman said her knowledge of financial literacy was small but has always enjoyed working with the stock market. She said she is actively putting a little into her savings account each paycheck to help pay for college.

Green said each session was around 45 minutes.

The project managers organized instructional slides, note pages, and educational games.

“We thought it would be great to incorporate the middle school and get the high schoolers as mentors,” Geyman said. “We saw that at this age, they need to know the basic knowledge of finance and savings.”

Green said he understood how savings could gain interest and compound interest equations, but he did not know what it truly meant.

He said he hopes the younger students leave the class with the knowledge of how much finance can affect them in real life.

“Outside of the finance and all the stuff we’ve been teaching them, I want them to see us as mentors … them seeing that they can do this in high school,” Geyman said.

She also said finance should be taught at high school.

“This is so much valuable information for our future,” she said.

Geyman and Green prepared what they learned and how they implemented the project along with a 20-page summary and took it to the state DECA competition in Columbus in March, where they finished as top finalists. They did not qualify for the International Career Development Conference hosted in Orlando, Florida.

Maxey said there has never been a DECA financial literacy project during her time at BGHS so when they approached her about it, she was supportive but suggested to see if there was a middle school class that could align with the lessons.

“I hope that they learned much larger life lessons from doing this project, including their emotional intelligence, their response to stress, their communication skills and the idea that every single person matters and is important in the process of the project,” Maxey said.

Many of her students are employed and are using what they have learned, she said.

“I hope the eighth graders get the idea of the importance of savings, the importance of being financially educated and I hope that they found a high schooler they can visualize themselves as being down the road and it’s made them think differently about being involved in their school,” she said.

The DECA chapter learned numerous life lessons from teaching the money management class at Bowling Green Middle School regarding project management skills such as initiating, planning, organizing and executing a project, Geyman said.

The BGHS DECA program is a satellite of Penta Career Center and is made up of junior and senior students. The DECA program prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for college and careers.

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