Dollars and sense: B-UHS awarded financial literacy pilot grant

A $2,000 grant from the Education Alliance will help Buckhannon-Upshur High School students learn more about finances. B-UHS was one of only three high schools in West Virginia selected to participate in this pilot program. Joining in the announcement of the grant are, from left, Dr. Debra Harrison, assistant superintendent; B-UHS instructor Christy Dean; Seth Warner; Simon Hepburn; Dawson Lilly; Dr. Sarah Lewis Stankus, superintendent of Upshur County Schools; Carla Rogers, B-UHS assistant principal/CTE; and B-UHS Principal Eddie Vincent.

TENNERTON – Buckhannon-Upshur High is one of only three high schools in West Virginia selected to receive a Financial Literacy High School Pilot Grant.

The $2,000 grant was announced at Buckhannon-Upshur High School Monday and was made by the Education Alliance in collaboration with the College Foundation of West Virginia, the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office, West Virginia Bankers Association, West Virginia University, Marshall University and the West Virginia Department of Education.

The pilot program’s intent is to strengthen students’ financial capability.

It was delivered in hopes of providing resources and technical support to help meet the unique needs of the schools as well as to aid in developing innovative models of financial literacy education.

Upshur County Schools superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said members of the business, industry and the community said knowledge of finances is key when students are seeking jobs or applying to college.

That feedback was received during the “Portrait of a B-UHS Graduate” event that took place in late 2018.

“They need to know how to make change, how to keep a checking account and the dangers of credit cards,” Stankus said. “All of these are things they need to know in life, and financial literacy is something students will need throughout their lives.”

Stankus told those gathered for the grant ceremony that students are in school for about 13 years, but most of their lives will be spent out of school, and financial literacy is a crucial skill.

“I am proud of our county for being a pilot for this program,” Stankus said. “I really believe it will be positive for our students and their effectiveness in managing their finances.”

Stankus said Upshur County Schools has been successful with many recent grant applications.

“We have a team of very talented educators who work on these initiatives,” Stankus said. “Christy Dean, Eddie Vincent and Carla Rogers all worked together to make this happen, and we are very excited about the program.”

Dean, who teaches personal finance at B-UHS, said she helped write the $2,000 grant.

“I had to write a little about what our school does for financial literacy and what I would do if we were to receive the grant,” Dean said. “The class will teach how to find a job, being able to advance in a career, paychecks, checking accounts, finding a home, renting an apartment, financing a car, buying stocks, insurances, taxes, being a wise consumer, and I usually end with talking about charitable donations.

“I also like to talk about estate planning and planning for a burial,” she added.

Dean said the grant will allow her to collaborate more with the civics classes at B-UHS.
“This will allow for collaboration and will allow me to buy some additional finance learning games,” she said. “It will allow me to teach four personal finance classes instead of just the two I teach now.”

B-UHS students Seth Warner, Simon Hepburn and Dawson Lilly said learning to use a checking account was one of the most useful things they learned in the personal finance class.

“It helps you learn about writing checks and balancing a checking account,” Seth said.

Simon agreed, saying he has an internship, and the class helped him learn to keep a checking account.

“I will be filing my income taxes soon,” Simon said.

Dawson said he appreciated learning about day-to-day financial management.

All three said they were surprised to learn about the dangers associated with credit cards.

The Education Alliance, through its Make Cents WV Initiative, is providing a $2,000 grant as well as additional supplemental resources to the pilot schools, which include B-UHS, Meadow Bridge High School in Fayette County and Paw Paw High School in Morgan County.

In addition to funding, participating schools will conduct a self-assessment of existing financial literacy practices and identify resources and strategies to strengthen their program throughout the year-long pilot.

Schools have access to the clearinghouse of financial literacy resources for families, students and educators. MakeCentsWV was created to help students make wise and informed financial choices. It provides resources to help students learn how to increase savings, improve credit and build assets.

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