At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Park County School District 1 Board of Trustees accepted donations on behalf of the students and staff as usual.
However, one of this month’s donations is a little different from others.
This donation was a financial curriculum to the Powell High School business teacher. Four donors — Richard Realty ($1,500), Sunlight Federal Credit Union ($1,000), Stine Buss Wolff CPA ($1,000) and Sage Wealth Management ($1,000) — purchased the Dave Ramsey financial curriculum. It has been used in 45% of high schools nationwide.
Richard Realty is the main sponsor while Sunlight Federal covers the lender aspect, Stine Buss Wolff the CPA angle and Travis Smith from Sage Wealth deals with the investment facet.
Pia Trotter, a realtor associate at Richard Realty. was the driving force in putting the donation together.
“I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey. Those are ideas I grew up with in Switzerland and I raised my kids with them,” she said. “But kids aren’t getting the education in finances that they need.”
Trotter had taken a class from Ramsey Solutions years ago. One of the ideas taught in those classes is that when a person has little or no consumer debt, they can spend that money on other things.
“I decided then that [sponsoring a school] was something I wanted to do,” Trotter said.
“I had a really great year in real estate with Richard Realty last year,” she said, so she seized the chance to accomplish her dream of paying it forward.
Ramsey is a nationally known radio talk show host and financial coach who counsels that “debt is dumb and cash is king.” He started his business on a card table in his home, entered talk radio from a single station in Nashville in 1992 and now reaches 18 million listeners a week on radio and a dedicated iHeartRadio station.
The curriculum will be incorporated into Mike Heny’s class for a year with the potential for continuing the program if it is well-received. Heny is stoked about the new opportunity as a teacher.
“I strongly believe that all students should be required to take a course in personal financial literacy and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to introduce the new curriculum in the classroom,” Heny commented.
The teacher said the generous gift will assist him “in creating curiosity and passion in students that keeps them engaged and excited to learn more.”
“The curriculum is designed to engage students in meaningful conversations and questions with me, their friends and their parents about important financial decisions,” Heny said. “As this happens, the goal is that I’ll be able to positively influence some of their most important life decisions.”
Foundations in Personal Finance, as the course is called, teaches students how to save, budget, avoid debt, spend wisely and invest in real world scenarios. It also deals with fundamental behaviors that help students gain the insight they need to confidently make wise financial decisions.
“I hope if it [the class] gets enough positive feedback we can get sponsors for other schools,” Trotter said. “I know there is interest and hope the students know they should sign up for it, because it’s an elective.”
Early on in the process, she was unsure whether the school would be open to adding the lessons. It is a considerable time commitment, one that principal Tim Wormald and instructor Heny had to sign off on. But Trotter took the idea to the school, where her children are students, and put the administration in contact with the education team at Ramsey Solutions.
“I was positively surprised and tickled to death that they agreed,” Trotter said. “This first year might be a trial and we’ll see where it goes.”