Ray Schebler has been teaching for 37 years and has never had a car payment in his life. Talk about leading by example! With all the weirdness we’ve experienced this year, it was a breath of fresh air to hear Ray talk about how much he still loves his job after all this time and how passionate he is about bringing hope to the next generation by teaching Foundations in Personal Finance (which he’s been doing for two years now). We got the chance to chat with Ray and got some inspiration for staying hopeful as this year starts coming to a close.
Making the Most of a Hard Season
Just like everyone else, Ray and his students at Blue River Career Center in Indiana had to go home this past March because of the pandemic—making it a lot harder for them to have the crucial in-person conversations about personal finance that he loves to have with his high school seniors. But they all got through it with the help of their positive attitudes and the digital curriculum.
“As a teacher, the online curriculum really helped me,” Ray told us. “It worked so well with e-learning because it was made for them to see those videos. I’m not highly technical, but it helped me keep track of everything.” (That’s what we love to hear!)
Now that they’re back in the classroom this semester, things have been going better than ever. Being together in person has been ideal for the group discussions and teaching examples that Ray likes to use—with one of the more recent ones involving cold, hard cash: “I told them to tear up a dollar bill, and my students said, ‘We can’t do that!’ I said, ‘What about a hundred-dollar bill? Can you tear this up?’ They said no. And then I said, ‘But how many times do you do that every day?’” Touché. We love that visual representation of what it’s like to waste money! We’re going to keep that in mind next time we’re tempted to eat out for the 10th time in one month.
And the students have been doing awesome with the material. Many of them are learning a specific trade and preparing to enter the workforce in all kinds of different fields—firefighting, welding, nursing, teaching. So learning how to be smart with money couldn’t be more important right now as they get ready to jump into the “real world.” Ray said that “right now, a big concern of theirs is saving money and seeing how it can multiply for them. They all want to know how to budget and how to start saving the money they make. I’ve got a couple students who are already investing!”
So, even though the challenges of 2020 have been pretty overwhelming, it’s great to know that classrooms like Ray’s are still engaged, thriving, and excited about learning how to handle money the right way—and that wouldn’t be possible without Foundations teachers who bring their A game every single day. Way to go, Ray!
Now that the school year is in full swing and we’re approaching the holidays, we wanted to talk to Ray about how his students have responded to the Foundations chapter on giving. He said that even though it can be difficult for young people to grasp the concept of giving when you already don’t have much, their in-class discussions have sparked some good conversations. And, as Ray proudly pointed out, his students are a kind and generous bunch (“I wouldn’t have been able to teach for this long if they weren’t!”). He told us an especially heartwarming story about one of his students who found $100 in a parking lot and immediately turned it in—but when they couldn’t find the owner and told him to keep the money, he donated it all when the career center hosted a fundraiser for their food pantry. “We discussed that in class too,” Ray said. “It makes you think about what you would actually do in that situation. Those are the things that make me really proud of those kids.”
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The faculty also find ways to practice generosity as a group with the students at Blue River, with things like canned food drives and special projects to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention and sex trafficking victims. That spirit of generosity is something we can all keep in mind as an important reason to manage money well. After all, giving is the most fun you can have with money!
Good Advice for Everyone
Given that Ray is a seasoned veteran in the teaching field, we asked him if he had any advice for first-time teachers of the Foundations curriculum (or any teaching advice in general). His response? “Learning is a lifelong process that you have to model for your students. Even though I’ve followed all these principles and I do these things, it’s still a struggle for me. I’m still learning, and we can learn this together. I think some teachers feel incompetent, but it’s okay if you’re still learning. If you don’t teach this stuff, who’s going to, right?”
We couldn’t agree more! Teaching personal finance can be intimidating, but when you have a curriculum that helps you out throughout the process, you don’t have to be an expert. You just have to love giving students the tools they need to succeed.
“I challenge my students to find something they’re passionate about—something that gets them up every day, that helps you make a difference,” Ray said. “Something you’re called to do.”
Now that’s some good advice. And we know that’s exactly what all of our awesome Foundations teachers are doing right now! We want to give a huge thanks to Ray—and to all of you—for continuing to make a difference and bringing hope to students even in a hard year like 2020. You’re the best!
Every year, thousands of students learn life-changing financial literacy skills through our Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum. Your students can be next! The curriculum simplifies big topics like debt, insurance, taxes, real estate and the global economy. Make sure your students are ready to enter their future with confidence and tackle their finances head on!