Teacher Spotlight — Jeanne White

Jeanne White shared her unique experience of teaching overseas at Kubasaki High School which is on Camp Foster a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa, a DODEA high school.  

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

I love seeing the lightbulb moments of students when they understand the concepts of financial management. It is rewarding when they realize the mistakes they make in the budget challenge prepare them for adulthood and “real life.” It’s ok to make mistakes in the simulation because they learn from them and don’t have life consequences that so many adults have due to poor financial management. I use these situations in class as a learning tool and example to discuss why, how to fix it, and how to avoid it in the future. It’s a safe environment to fail and learn how to change financial habits. Also, the topics in the Budget Challenge allow students to think about financial planning long before they start investing and saving (with a career). My students are military dependents and are not based in the U.S. This challenge gives us an opportunity to explain differences between finances in different countries.

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher when using Budget Challenge? 

Getting through the curriculum material. I have block classes of 84 minutes and I see them twice a week or sometimes three times a week; it varies. I give students class time to work on quizzes and I conduct mini-lessons on the curriculum material. I wish this were a 12 week simulation as it would provide more time to discuss the issues. Also, it has been challenging to explain the investment process to students at the beginning. While I really like it as an added option for the class, I felt rushed to educate students about investing and preparing them for the budget challenge at the same time.

What is the biggest challenge for students participating in Budget Challenge? 

My students struggle with keeping up with the quiz schedule and logging in daily. They are usually two chapters behind me in taking quizzes so I have to monitor it closely.

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

Read the materials before you teach the class. The curriculum guides include great information, helpful tips and reminders on each topic. Even experienced teachers can benefit from reviewing the curriculum guide to ensure key information or lesser known facts are shared with students.  Use reconciliation opportunities for test grades and help students to understand the reconciliation process. So few parents use checkbooks or financial budgeting tools now.

How have your students responded to Budget Challenge? 

My students, without exception, have said they enjoyed the Budget Challenge. It was their favorite part of the semester class. They feel better prepared and knowledgeable about making financial decisions.

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

I ran into a former student, now graduated from high school, and she said the Budget Challenge class was the most helpful and significant class of her high school career. She uses the knowledge from that class regularly and encourages other high school students to take the class with the simulation. Additionally, my students get very competitive when looking at other classes and within class their own class ranking. I am taking my top 4 students to lunch off campus, based on the final scores. They are very enthusiastic about moving up in the rankings to ensure they make the final cut.