Interviewing a Superstar Teacher — Stephen Latter

Stephen Latter in Potomac Falls, VA has been a huge advocate for our program. We were even able to sit in on his class for a day last fall to see how he uses Budget Challenge in his classroom. Read his thoughts on the program..

What has been your favorite part of Budget Challenge as a teacher?
It is rewarding knowing that you are providing your students with a realistic simulation of living financially independent. Providing students only worksheets, hypothetical problems, and tests within a classroom cannot produce the financial-skill development as well as the Budget Challenge simulation.

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher when using Budget Challenge?
The biggest challenge is only in the first school year offering the simulation to your students since, as a teacher, you also need to learn how to play/execute the challenge well enough in order to advise your students. I play the game along with my students under teacher play every semester, although my personal results/scores are kept separate from theirs, so that I know exactly what they are experiencing. Other than the first-year roll-out, there really are no other major challenges as the Budget Challenge software does all the tracking and reporting of student progress and results.

What is the biggest challenge for students participating in Budget Challenge?
The biggest challenge is at the very outset, where students become familiar with the challenge, make their vendor selections, establish their budgets, and learn about the trophies they are seeking. Trophies are additional competition points received incenting good financial behavior such as paying down student debt, establishing an emergency fund, and paying credit card bills in full and on time.

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

  1. Ensure that each of your students have established their entire 10-week budget (standard spreadsheet provided as part of simulation) before the game begins. This is the key to student success in the game.
  2. Make sure students understand the pursuit of the trophies in order to further challenge them to develop good financial habits.
  3. Play the simulation along with your students and enjoy the simulation!

How have your students responded to Budget Challenge?
My students love the game competition! We post the top 5 students in the competitive standings each class. After 18 years of teaching Personal Finance, I have found that students love both competitions and games and this simulation combines both!

Do you have a Budget Challenge story that is especially memorable?
My most memorable moments from the Budget Challenge (Not in any particular order)

I had had one parent ask me how they could play Budget Challenge. She said the excitement generated at the dinner table had spread from child to parent!

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