Teacher Spotlight — Robin Salai

Robin Salai, a Business teacher at Fairmont Senior High School in WV, who has been using Budget Challenge for several years, shares her vast experience with us. She started teaching the class with 22 students and since then her class size has almost tripled. Salai was even featured in the Times West Virginian last year for using our program in her Personal Finance course. 

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

I love that my students are able to learn hands-on skills that they can use in the real-world.

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher or for your students when using Budget Challenge?

It is fast paced and realistic. Students learn quickly they cannot be passive.

What difference do you think the simulation is making in the lives of your students?

I have had students come to me after graduating and tell me they appreciate the knowledge they learned from Budget Challenge. That if it were not for the challenge they would not have been ready for life.

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

Not one that jumps out at me, other than I teach grades 9-12 and last year I had a freshman that excelled and earned all 6 trophies as well as all certifications.

How do students engage with Budget Challenge differently from traditional materials?

I believe that because it shows them the connection between learning and using, it helps them to realize the value of learning. They tell me it is not something they are forced to learn and never use again. Like all of us, they make mistakes but when they realize the consequences they spend real time figuring out how not to repeat the behavior.

Has the pandemic affected the way you've used or plan to use Budget Challenge?

If so, how? I do not change the schedules or curriculum of Budget Challenge for the pandemic. It made if very difficult to stay connected, however, I just recorded more videos and meeting times for students. I made myself available to them after hours because of the time constraints students faced at home.

I started using Budget Challenge several years ago. I love that it uses real-world applications to help students understand the consequences of inaction as well as being rewarded for positive actions. I try to use the materials as reinforcement in the second Semester after we study the materials for the first Semester. I have had great success with Budget Challenge. It is fast-paced and real-world experience without financial costs, but students understand that there are real consequences for slacking. I went from teaching one class with 22 students to two classes with as many as 63 students. It is a very popular class. I will continue to offer it as long as it is available. Thank you for a program that matters.