Teacher Spotlight — Hilary Ruttenberg

Hilary Ruttenberg is an economics teacher at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hilary took the time to share her recent experience implementing Budget Challenge in a blended classroom setting which includes online instruction and in person.

What has been your favorite part of Budget Challenge as a returning teacher year after year?  

I think just knowing how useful this will be for my students and their future.  Students love that this is something that they will use in real life and are very motivated and excited to participate.  Many times, parents get involved and it is a great tool for discussion at home about personal finances, which I have found does not usually organically happen, so having a vessel for that is worth so much! 

Are there any tips you can give to new teachers using Budget Challenge? 

Reaching out to the website for support and giving yourself enough time to prepare before it starts.  Also using a Teacher Play account is extremely helpful because then you can see exactly what your students see.  There is actually so much to Budget Challenge as far as resources and support but start small and build up!  Also, give yourself about two weeks BEFORE the challenge starts to get yourself and your students organized.

What is your favorite Budget Challenge feature? 

There definitely is a learning curve, so the teacher play account is very helpful.  Also, the responsiveness of the help desk for both teachers and students are nice.  Also, the spreadsheet is amazing!  I have had many students say that they have adapted the spreadsheet to their own life.

Do you have a Budget Challenge story that is especially memorable?   

One thing that really stood out and made an impression was when I had an aide in class play it with us.  She followed a student all day and she perked up when she heard about the challenge.  She confided in me that her husband of 40 year had always paid the bills and she had no idea how to do it.  She eventually shared this information with the class and said how it was a wakeup call for her to understand her personal finances and how valuable it was for even her!  The students really do see the value in the game, but to hear from another adult who was also learning was very eye-opening!

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher or for your students using Budget Challenge during these unprecedented times? 

I was nervous about how Budget Challenge would go since I was teaching virtually, but it actually has been very seamless, and I feel like the students haven't missed a beat!  Having to teach them how to do everything virtually has only made me a stronger teacher in my methodology of teaching personal finance.  I think the students look forward to it and it breaks up the monotony of online learning!