Teacher Spotlight — Holly Toft

Holly Toft, an Economics teacher at Mount Michael Benedictine School in Elkhorn, NE a seasoned user of Budget Challenge recently shared her experience with us.

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

My favorite part of the Budget Challenge is seeing students go from struggling with budgeting and bill payments to understanding what they need to do in order to be successful with managing their money.

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

Involve families as much as possible!  Families are great assets because they have real world experience with budgeting and bill payment.  Feedback I have gotten from parents has shown that the process becomes real for students when they discuss the simulation with their family.  

What is your favorite Budget Challenge feature?

My favorite feature of the Budget Challenge is a feature that is still being worked on.  I am really looking forward to students being able to choose how they invest their 401(k).  I have a lot of students interested in investing and this gives them a great opportunity to get their feet wet.  

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

One day a few years ago I was walking down the hall in between classes.  I overheard a student tell another student that he got in a car accident in the Budget Challenge.  The other student laughed and said that was too bad because he had not been in one.  Little did he know that everyone in the Budget Challenge had been in a car accident; he just hadn’t checked his budget challenge lately to know it.  The news of the car accident spread quickly through the school and the entire sophomore class was talking about their car accident the rest of the day.  I had another teacher ask me which sophomore got in a car accident because they wouldn’t stop talking about it and I had to explain that it was a fictional car accident in their Budget Challenge simulation. 

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

I actually see Budget Challenge as a blessing during this time.  My school is currently operating in person, but if the school switches to remote learning the Budget Challenge will seamlessly switch over.  The students work on it largely on their own as homework, so the digital platform allows them to continue their work whether they are in school or at home.