U-32 teacher George Cook (right) accepts the Financial Literacy Champion Award from the Vermont Jump$tart Coalition, presented by Judy Ribolini (left), president of the coalition’s board of directors.
The Vermont Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy recognized U-32 High School as one of four Vermont high schools receiving the 2014 Financial Literacy Champion Award at a ceremony on April 10 in Montpelier. In addition to U-32, this first year of the annual award also honored Vergennes Union High School, Missisquoi Valley Union High School, and Fair Haven Union High School for their commitment to make financial literacy a requirement for graduation.
The Vermont Jump$tart Financial Literacy Champion Award recognizes leadership and outstanding innovation and achievement in the effort to advance the financial literacy of Vermont youth. The honor comes with a $1,000 cash award which was equally divided among the four recipients. Vergennes Union High School was first to make personal finance a requirement for graduation in 2009, followed by Missisquoi, Fair Haven and U-32. Though each school may have a different approach, all four high schools have demonstrated a pronounced commitment to financial literacy by introducing required coursework that teaches the skills necessary for responsible personal money management.
“Whether these young adults go on to further their education or go directly to work, money management skills are essential to make the money they earn stretch to meet their current expenses as well as save for the future,” said Judy Ribolini, president of Vermont Jump$tart’s board of directors. “We at Vermont Jump$tart are excited to be able to recognize the schools that are leading the way to help our students achieve financial independence after graduation.”
According to George Cook, a business teacher at U-32 and advocate for financial literacy, “Personal finance is a twenty-first century skill that all students should possess.” U-32’s class of 2018 will graduate with the skills to manage their personal finances responsibly, including knowledge on income, saving, credit, debt risk management, insurance, investing and career choices.
“We are aligned perfectly with the Common Core in this area as our students need to be able to solve real life problems dealing with money management,” Cook said. “Financial literacy is not an overly challenging type of mathematics. However, students must become educated on being disciplined and how to make complex financial decisions that are critical to their well-being.”
The one-semester, half-credit course at U-32 will be taught by three instructors, all of whom are graduates of Champlain College’s Vermont Teachers Financial Literacy Summer Institute. “The teachers at U-32 are continuously growing professionally in this area, so that we can pass it on to our students,” Cook said, who also has attended financial literacy conferences sponsored by Vermont Jump$tart.
The awards ceremony was one of several activities recognizing Vermont schools and student achievement in financial literacy. Vermont Lt. Gov. Phil Scott kicked off the event with the presentation of a proclamation signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin declaring April as Financial Literacy Month in Vermont. Students and their schools also were recognized for their participation in the “Reading is an Investment” program, sponsored by the Vermont Treasurer’s Office, TD Bank and the Windham Foundation, and the “Be Money Wise” poster contest, sponsored by the Treasurer’s Office and the Vermont Bankers Association.
The Vermont Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization comprising individuals, organizations, and businesses seeking to promote financial literacy to Vermont youth. Vermont Jump$tart is affiliated with the national Vermont Jump$tart Coalition, Washington, D.C. For more information on Vermont Jump$tart, visit www.vtjumpstart.org.