AMES, Iowa –Seventy-five teachers and counselors left an Iowa State University Extension workshop this summer better equipped to build financial literacy skills in Iowa middle and high school students. Armed with new lesson plans, learning activities and round-the-clock access to a national website for updates, they’re ready to meet the mandate of the Iowa 21st Century Skills Core Curriculum.
The Iowa Core requires that Iowa schools teach financial literacy skills to K-12 students, beginning with grades 9-12 by the 2012-2013 school year, said Cynthia Needles Fletcher, ISU Extension specialist and professor of family economics and public policy in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
ISU Extension partnered with the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, Iowa State Savings Bank and United Way of Story County to offer training in the Family Economics and Financial Education (FEFE) program, a nationally recognized financial literacy curriculum, Fletcher said.
Iowa State has a history of teaching, research and extension work in financial literacy, Fletcher noted. It just made sense to give Iowa educators an edge in meeting the Iowa Core requirements.
“This curriculum helps teachers meet the 21st Century Skills challenge,” Fletcher said. “There is a demand for financial literacy training among teachers, counselors and community educators. We reached our capacity of 75 participants and started a waiting list within days of announcing the workshop this spring.”
Glenda Seward, an Iowa classroom educator and part of the national FEFE team, was one of the workshop presenters. She understands the need educators have for training as well as the allure of up-to-date teaching materials.
“Textbooks are great for some things, but finance changes often,” Seward said. The FEFE curriculum is updated frequently to keep up with the changing financial industry. In addition, the lessons are activity-based and fit how students learn.
The Iowa College Student Aid Commission covered the majority of the cost of the FEFE curriculum for the teachers attending the workshop. The commission’s Michael Anderson told the teachers, “You are making financial literacy more than a buzzword, more than a headline. You’re making it an opportunity for students to make better decisions.”
Financial literacy is an unmet need in Story County and throughout Iowa, said Kristin Pates with United Way of Story County (UWSC). That’s why UWSC provided scholarships so seven Story County teachers could attend the training. UWSC is investing in teachers as another way to support Iowa youth, she said.
Iowa State Savings Bank (ISSB) provided scholarships to help eight educators from the bank’s communities attend the training. ISSB representative Beverly Kinker said she’s witnessed first hand the lack of financial knowledge among Iowans of all ages. This training for teachers lays the groundwork to help the state’s young people develop good financial skills that will help them for a lifetime.