The Richmond Register

Local News

November 11, 2010

Madison Southern teacher earns award

BEREA — Students in Jennifer Allen’s classes at Madison Southern High School are learning the importance of money.

Allen, who teaches business economics, financial services and advanced computer applications, was recently honored by Kentucky Jump$tart Financial Literacy as its Teacher of the Year.

Jump$tart is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that promotes the advancement of financial literacy among students in pre-kindergarten through college, according to its website.

Allen, who was not aware that she had been nominated until she was notified a month ago that she had won the honor, was officially given the award by First Lady Jane Beshear on Monday in Frankfort.

“I was very excited, it’s an honor, but at the same time I know I’m not doing anything different than many other teachers,” Allen said. “I just got lucky.”

For winning the award, Allen receives $250 to use for financial literacy instruction.

Allen, who has taught at Madison Southern for six years, said she tries to teach students everything from the basics to more advanced techniques of using money. 

“I teach everything from how to write a check, how to balance a check book, all the way up to the stock market and everything in between,” Allen said.

“One of the things that always shocks me, and that I think would shock a lot of people, is that there are students in (advanced placement) math classes that have trouble balancing a check book,” she said. “They’re very bright young people, but maybe they’ve forgotten the basic (applied) math skills.”

Allen said she was told that one of the reasons she won the award was because of all the resources she uses in her classroom.

Her classes are taught in a computer lab, and students have access to dozens of websites, including one of Allen’s favorites, stlouisfed.org, which is the website for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The website covers a variety of education resources for elementary, middle and high school students.

Allen utilizes local business, such as the Peoples Bank of Madison County and Park Federal Credit Union.

“They’ve been very helpful with field trips, guest speakers and monetary donations,” Allen said.

Students also have the ability to gain experience on campus at a working bank.

This week, students were learning about compound interest, how your money makes you money, how to calculate interest on a calculator, as well as finding websites that can do more advanced calculations, Allen said.

As part of the lesson, students pick out their dream car and experiment with different interest rates to see how much they will be paying over a five-year payback and what will be the actual cost of the vehicle.

“We have become a see it, want it, buy it nation,” she said. “I call it instant gratification. Nobody today saves up before they buy, so we talk about the importance of that.”

Allen said she wants her students to take what they have learned in her class and apply those lessons to life.

“We can’t let them leave here not knowing things they can do with their money,” Allen said. “We want them to go to college or the military or vocational school and get jobs, but we need to teach them” what to do with their money so they will not repeat the mistakes that caused the world’s current economic difficulties.

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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