Melissa Golden wants to make sure students don't graduate from William Penn Senior High School without knowing some basic financial information.
She's made a second career out of being a financial education teacher, after years of working in business communications.
Her focus is always on real-life knowledge. Her personal finance course has grown from one class of 20 students to three classes of 120 students total, with an increased emphasis on the kind of things that will help students in everyday life.
"I think there's a real need for these skills to cope with the economy," she said. "It's a real-life class. You can't just teach from a book."
Her methods caught the attention of the state Department of Banking, which honored Golden with a Ripple Effect Award for her work, one of just five in the state.
Golden was honored at a York City school board meeting in August for her accomplishments.
Golden said some students don't think about the fact they'll likely need to know how to read a credit score, apply for a loan or handle a financial portfolio.
All of those things are covered in her class, with fun activities such as one in which students take a risk assessment and then "invest" money however they want. The goal is to "beat the mattress," Golden said, i.e. make more money than a person who just stuffs all of his savings under his mattress.
Then there's the series of guest speakers from all kinds of fields, there to answer questions in person and give insight on topics such as debt management or college loans.
Some students mistakenly believe that if they failed out of college, they'd get all of their tuition money back. Or they think the books come free. That's where Golden steps in.
"I see a real need for that in the schools," she said.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.