Middle grades students could be found studying bank statements, comparing credit cards and deciphering paycheck stubs in a Winter Seminar class that was all about taking a deep dive into the very real, everyday world of math: financial literacy. Throughout the week, students explored important life skills such as opening a bank account, using credit, having the finances to live on your own, understanding a rental agreement and saving and investing for the long term.
Students also welcomed a few guest speakers including Avenues parents and a member of our human resources team. These speakers imparted their knowledge on the power of compound interest, risk versus reward and the fine points of a paycheck, including pre-tax deductions like health benefits and retirement savings. During a presentation by Becca Howlett, director of talent at Avenues, on the anatomy of a paycheck, students were blown away by the costs of health insurance and the differences in gross pay versus net income.
Students also spent the week exploring a topic of their choice in greater depth, researching in small groups, using the guests as additional resources and preparing a presentation for a parent audience on Friday. One 8th grader, Jonathan, devoted his time to exploring the visual representation of compound interest, creating a graph and exploring the line's slope and how it relates to an exponential growth function. Another group did a presentation on the importance of teaching financial literacy in schools.
At the end of the five days, several students were left wondering why a class like this doesn’t already exist for all. Indeed, it is information that everyone will need to understand in their young adult and adult life – talk about practical applications of math!