OHS introduces personal finance as graduation requirement

By Ashley Haynes

Oct. 26, 2017

 Tim Duchow, left, with Shaun Hughes, middle, and Ryan Hayes, right, in the Oconomowoc High School Personal Finance Class. Duchow is mentoring Hughes and Hayes on an investment plan they created.
Submitted photos

OCONOMOWOC — Classes in personal finance have been available at Oconomowoc High School for many years as elective credits; however, starting with this year’s freshmen class, personal finance will be required for graduation.

The class has evolved over the years but the primary goal is to start high school students thinking about money management, savings, credit and controlling their own finances after high school.

OHS staff have developed an advisory team to help guide curriculum planning and incorporate local business leaders from the financial sector. Mentors like Tim Duchow and Kristen Metcalf, both from Robert W. Baird & Co., serve on the advisory committee and work directly with students.

“I would challenge anyone to name a high school course that is more important than personal finance,” said Duchow, senior vice president at Baird. “No matter your final education level or ultimate vocation, personal finance touches every person, every day, for the rest of their life.”

OHS staff and the advisory committee started curriculum planning by looking at data and financial trends, especially for young people. It was clear that credit and debt should be a large focus of the course, which is the topic they started with in September.

 Mark Gustin (right) with Hannah Brandenstein (left) and Brianna Beers (middle) in the OHS Personal Finance Class. Gustin is mentoring Brandenstein and Beers on a savings plan they created.
Submitted photos

“The kids need to understand the pitfalls of consumer debt right away — it is one of the biggest problems our economy faces and it’s growing every day,” said Duchow.

Through the course, students will learn about different types of credit, managing credit, budgeting, savings, taxes, insurance, and investing.

The Personal Finance course will continue to evolve and seek partnerships with local business and finance leaders. These professionals help provide reallife insight and experience to help students better understand financial concepts and decision-making.

“I love teaching personal finance because it’s something that all students will use in the near future and they can easily see its value beyond high school,” said Kyla Stefan, OHS business education teacher. “Students will leave the course with relevant strategies to make sound financial decisions in the future.”