Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Offers Teacher License Renewal Course ‘Small Change’ on March 29

February 28, 2023, 10:35 am | Phyllis Zalenski, Carol Ehlers

High school teacher standing at front of class teaching by Monkey Business/, Iowa – According to a 2015 study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, teaching financial skills to youth before they enter college or the workforce is crucial to helping them grow into adults who can achieve financial security and success. Iowa is one of 20 states where K-12 educators teach financial literacy skills courses required for high school graduation, said Phyllis Zalenski, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

That is why Zalenski encourages K-12 teachers to register for the upcoming “Small Change: Building Financial Security for Educators” online course starting Wednesday, March 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. Register online for March’s Small Change course.

The course content is embedded in the financial literacy standards of the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills and Social Studies, and connects participants with curricula, resources and school-based programs for elementary, middle and high school levels. Educators can earn one Iowa License renewal credit.

“Financial literacy skills are important at any age, but the younger you develop the skills, the more time you have to reap the benefits. When we teach youth personal financial skills, they gain a solid foundation for a lifetime of financial independence and decision making,” said human sciences specialist Carol Ehlers.

Both Ehlers and Zalenski specialize in family wellbeing.

The online course supports the effort to increase Iowa students’ financial literacy, as the state added a personal finance course as a graduation requirement beginning with the graduating class of 2021.

The educator course focuses on making more informed decisions about financial management and building greater confidence to make small changes that can make a difference. Thanks to a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, Iowa teachers partner with ISU Extension and Outreach to complete the course. Participants explore lessons that are timely and relevant to themselves personally and to their classroom.

Lesson topics include:

  • Finance Fundamentals—getting organized, smart borrowing, estate planning.
  • Insurance—life, health, disability, long-term care, auto, home, liability coverage.
  • Investing—risk tolerance, investment choices, funding long-term goals.
  • Retirement—preparing for retirement, building a nest egg, Social Security, IPERS.

The course format requires participants to:

  • Participate in a live, virtual two-hour introductory workshop on March 29 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Complete at least four of 12 gamified online lessons covering financial topics.
  • Complete assignments to promote financial literacy and connect with resources.

“Educators explore research-based resources that look at strategies for handling and managing debt, how to use various financial services, how to create a personal insurance plan, ways to examine how choice of career and lifestyle will affect personal financial planning, and much more,” Ehlers said.

Small Change: Building Financial Security for Educators features vetted curriculum and resources. It is offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach with seed funding support from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

The course fee is $25 to Iowa State Education Association members and non-members. Those who do not need license renewal credit may register and audit the course for a $10 fee.

Register online by March 24 at or search for Small Change at Space is limited.

For more information, visit

Photo credit: Monkey Business/

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