Vivian is one of those people you just want to be friends with. Within a few minutes of talking to her, anyone can tell how dedicated she is to her job and how much she loves her 9–12th grade students at Pearland High School in Texas. In fact, this is her 19th year of teaching—talk about impressive! And we feel super lucky to have someone like that teaching our Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum.
We got the chance to talk with Vivian about everything from emergency funds to money-saving tips. We also got to hear about how she’s taking on the challenges of the fall semester with a genuine care for her students that’s truly inspiring.
Life-Change for Everyone
The recent crisis has definitely caused some huge life changes, including a serious shift in the way we approach learning. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the need to make sure students know how money works so they can survive and thrive in the real world. And personal finance education is what really changes lives for the better.
Teaching personal finance hasn’t just impacted her students’ lives. It’s opened doors for Vivian too. When the state of Texas mandated that every high school was required to offer a personal financial literacy class, she worked incredibly hard to find a curriculum that met all the standards (which, of course, was Foundations—yay!). Vivian arranged for it to be offered at her school, and we’re so thankful she did!
“I wasn’t aware of Dave Ramsey, and it changed my life,” she told us. “It changed my way of thinking.” Because of Vivian’s commitment to learning and following those principles herself, and the work she put in to bring it to her school, now her students are able to get the tools they need to manage money wisely and set themselves up for long-term success.
Vivian’s classes have even gotten the parents excited to learn more! She explained: “When they find out I’m teaching this, they want to come to the class. I’ve even had parents sit down and fill out the workbook along with the kids. I have to ask my students, ‘Did you do this, or did your parents do it?’ They love it.” We have to admit, it’s pretty fun to picture a group of parents sitting in a high school classroom taking a personal finance course.
Emergency Fund Excellence
Vivian’s 110% commitment to applying these financial concepts to her own life has made for some awesome conversations with her students, especially when it comes to the topic of saving. “We exchange ideas and savings milestones,” she said, telling us about how she swaps money-saving tips with her classes. Tips like: “How about instead of buying a soda every day for a dollar, you go to Walmart and buy a whole case for $3?” That’ll preach.
Because of these conversations and everything they’re learning in the class, her students are becoming straight-up pros at building their emergency funds. Vivian told us they work super hard to keep saving, and most of them have a job of some kind, “They really value their jobs. Some of them even have their own businesses—they cut grass or babysit. Some of them have $1,000 saved up already!” That’s a huge accomplishment, especially during these uncertain times.
Are you a teacher? Help your students win with money today!
Speaking of which, the pandemic certainly hasn’t made the whole work situation any easier. Last semester, when quarantine started, most students were able to keep working—which was both a blessing and a challenge. Many of Vivian’s students’ incomes were being used to help support their families (not just to save up), but those work hours also proved to be difficult when paired with the challenges of adapting to online learning. “They’re not just working to have extra money; they’re actually contributing to the household. So when they had to make time to be online, do work, and go to work, they had a lot of adjusting to do. I found myself online or on a phone call up until 10 or 11 o’clock at night, because they just got off work and needed my help.” Wow. That, ladies and gentleman, is a rock-star teacher!
New Semester, Same Great Attitude
As everyone settles into a new normal this semester, Vivian is continuing with that same kind of above-and-beyond dedication to her students. Classes at her school are a combination of in-person and online, which is no easy task. So she’s making plenty of time for one-on-one, face-to-face interactions whenever a student needs a concept explained or some additional discussion. We really admire that extra effort to keep building relationships with students, even when things don’t look like they normally do.
And that relationship building has clearly paid off. Kids who have graduated are always coming back to visit Vivian and letting her know how they’re doing out there in the world. One student came back to speak to her class about his college experiences, and he just got accepted to a finance degree program at an Ivy League school! We love hearing the joy in Vivian’s voice as she tells us about how her former students are thriving, and we know her students love her too. Seriously—how could you not love someone with such a huge heart for teaching?
We want to give a huge shout-out to Vivian and all of you incredibly dedicated teachers who are working hard to bring hope to your students this semester, even with all the extra hurdles and challenges. And if you’re looking for more tips on the importance of teaching personal finance right now—especially the emergency fund—check out our latest blog.