Barrington High School students learn money management
Barrington High School teacher Mary Ellen Peterson teaches the school's Intro to Business class with the help from EverFi, a program that prompts students to react to real-life scenarios. | Photos courtesy Laura Pavin
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:04PM
BARRINGTON — More than 3,800 schools in the United States are using EverFi to provide their students’ real-life learning scenarios, and Barrington High School recently followed suit.
In the midst of the holiday shopping season, the high school’s Intro to Business students are learning the financial skills they’ll need to spend and save their money responsibly. Because it’s often easier for students to memorize information than it is to apply it to their own lives, BHS added EverFi to its business curriculum to challenge students’ minds in a different way.
“It’s just one more source that’s telling them the same thing, but in a different way,” explained applied arts teacher Mary Ellen Peterson, who teaches the Intro to Business class. “It’s self-paced and they (have) interactive videos to learn from.”
EverFi is an education technology company that develops online platforms for students to use as a supplement to classroom lectures and textbook readings. The software prompts students to react to scenarios that require the utilization of information they learned in the classroom.
Child development teacher Janet Schultz was interested in bringing EverFi’s platform to the high school after reading a news article last spring about the technology’s integration in all McHenry County schools’ consumer education courses.
“I thought, ‘I wonder why Barrington doesn’t have this?’” Schultz said.
Schultz first reached out to the American Community Bank & Trust for a sponsorship to fund the BHS program because the bank funded the McHenry initiative; but she was pointed to the school’s parent teacher organization to secure the $5,000 a year for the technology.
“A couple hours later, I get another email that said they were going to do it; so they did it for three years for us, which is like a $15,000 grant,” Schultz said.
As a result of her effort, Barrington High School teachers have been using the platform in tandem with their curriculum since last spring.
Peterson said that EverFi’s supplemental lessons have so far helped reinforce each unit’s information. For example, EverFi helps students learn how to budget by having them identify where they should distribute their hypothetical income of a certain amount. They learn to budget for savings; student loans; insurance; utilities; credit card payments; food; transportation; rent; and entertainment.
After the most recent lesson, Peterson said she hopes students took away three pieces of information: to put one week’s worth of their paychecks toward housing costs each month; to save 60 percent of their income while they’re still living with their parents or 25 percent when living on their own; and to put a 20 percent down payment on a house.
“I told them that they could save about 60 percent of their Christmas money or birthday money while they’re still living at home, for example,” Peterson said. “If they can get in these good spending habits now, it will be easier when they’re older.”
Kyle Monahan, a sophomore in the class, said he’s not worrying about rationing his money in this way just yet. He did, however, think that knowing how to save for retirement is valuable information he’d remember.
“The most valuable information I learned was about retirement,” he explained. “In the future, it will be useful to know how to save for that.”
Fellow sophomore Calvin Goldsmith said the EverFi-supported lessons have helped him better understand the class lectures.
“Instead of just sitting in a class and having a lecture, it’s more interactive and realistic,” Goldsmith said. “It helps me be smarter with my money, and realize that I don’t always need to have the most expensive thing. It helps me have a state of mind that’s there’s budget, and that I need to stick to it.”