If there’s one quality we love to see in teachers, it’s passion for helping teens learn to win with money. And if we have to pick a second-favorite quality, it’s putting that passion into practice and leading by example. Well, Troy of Toledo Public Schools sets the bar high in both categories as he leads his 9th through 12th grade students through the Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum with excitement.
We got to chat with Troy about how the curriculum has impacted his personal life as well as how it’s helping his students change their family trees. His story is one that will encourage even the most exhausted teacher, so get ready!
Walking the Talk
Troy was first introduced to Dave Ramsey when he was asked to take over for a teacher and lead the class through the Foundations curriculum. In this substitute position, Troy found himself teaching students how to budget, get out of debt, save money and pay cash for things. So, he did what any good teacher would do—he demonstrated by going first!
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Budgeting and saving became regular activities as Troy started to apply The Five Foundations to his own life. In addition to teaching, Troy picked up another job with FedEx, bringing his workload to a whopping 67 hours a week!
So, instead of just learning financial principles in theory, Troy’s students get to see their teacher being directly impacted by the curriculum. The course becomes real to them as he illustrates the chapter lessons with stories and examples from his personal life. “Dave helped so much in my personal life—and now that translates to the classroom,” he said.
And as if teaching didn’t already bring enough challenges, virtual school has thrown teachers an extra curveball over the past year. But Troy shared that he and his students look at the challenges of online learning as opportunities for growth instead of setbacks. They’re learning and overcoming—together.
“The FoundationsDigital curriculum is excellent,” he said. “We love all the videos, especially from Anthony ONeal and Chris Hogan, and I can see my students really catching on.”
Another way that Troy leads his students is by showing them that anything is possible—even becoming millionaires someday. For many high school students, The Fifth Foundation (build wealth and give) feels far off. Even saving $500 (The First Foundation) sounds like a stretch to them at first. But Troy is a champion when it comes to helping students realize their potential and get excited about their futures. “Now they see how [The Five Foundations] set them up for their future, and it’s making them more motivated to get there,” he shared.
Of course, one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid when building wealth is debt. You can’t focus on your future if you’re busy throwing money at your past. Thankfully, Troy’s students understand that debt is dumb and cash is king. And together as a class, they’ve committed to living debt-free. “We’re not going to allow ourselves to get into debt. We’re going to pay cash for things,” he said. Some of them are already working to pay cash for college!
With debt off the table, Troy encourages his classes to dream big for their futures. For example, there’s a cosmetology school nearby, and a lot of his students hope to start their own cosmetology business someday. In class, Troy helps them connect the dots between building good money habits and becoming better business owners down the road.
But the thing his students get the most excited about when it comes to wealth building is giving. Here at Ramsey Education, we love giving—after all, it’s the most fun you’ll ever have with money. And Troy agrees: “I teach my students that you want to be wealthy, not rich. Wealth is passed down, and it’s for the purpose of giving. We’re naturally focused on getting, but we have to be taught how to give. It’s a new perspective for [them].”
Beyond the Classroom
To gauge how well his students were grasping all of these money lessons, Troy used final exams as an opportunity to dig even deeper. He asked his students to write about what they learned from the course, and many of them offered up impressive answers!
Some of the student essays included insights like, “Good money management is a discipline that’s learned over time” and “It’s unnecessary to loan money to family. If they need a few dollars, I’ll give it to them without expecting anything back.” One student even said, “I’m prepared for life now. I’ll never forget this.”
Troy shared that some of his students have even gone so far as to take the financial responsibility home and teach their parents about personal finance! And it’s all thanks to the principles they’ve watched Troy live out both in the classroom and in his own life. He set an example of what it looks like to make the right choices with money, and his students are just following their leader. His personal motto is “Teach to reach,” and it’s clear that Troy is reaching his students.
So, for all the teachers who need an extra dose of encouragement during this particularly challenging season, Troy wants to remind you that you are having an impact. “Continue to keep pushing. The students will hear it if you teach it. There’ll be something that’s relevant to them, they’ll grasp it, and they’ll take it into the rest of their lives.”