RIC Hosts Financial Literacy Teacher Training

Special to RIC News by Margaret Brooks

This fall, Rhode Island College (RIC) hosted the first Financial Literacy Teacher Training conference in the state, which provided 60 Rhode Island K-12 teachers with a valuable forum to exchange ideas with their colleagues and learn about the latest financial literacy content and curriculum.

Teacher interest in this conference was high, following last year’s statewide endorsement of personal financial literacy standards by the Rhode Island Council for Elementary and Secondary Education. RIC President Nancy Carriuolo welcomed the participants to the conference, thanked them for their dedicated work in the classroom and shared her insights into RIC’s history of support for economic and financial education. Senator Jack Reed offered his support via video, stating “Financially literate citizens are good for the economy and good for our community. … Rhode Island is taking steps to strengthen financial capability at all levels.”

R.I. Jump$tart President Margaret Brooks and Fidelity Investments Vice President Rick Metters explained that the curriculum modules were developed as a shared model by the Jump$tart Teacher Training Alliance (J$TTA). The founding members of the J$TTA include Council for Economic Education, Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, Junior Achievement USA, National Endowment for Financial Education, and the Take Charge America Institute at the University of Arizona. Similar J$TTA Teacher Training Initiative programs have been offered recently in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Kentucky.    

The R.I. Teacher Training Initiative program primarily focused on covering two of the five J$TTA curriculum modules: “Planning and Spending” and “Saving and Investing.” Comprehensive presentations led by Fidelity Investments experts Lori Lachance, Jeremy Vaille and Bruce Stachura encouraged the attendees to participate in lively discussions on ways to apply the financial literacy concepts  to their own and their students’ daily lives.

Luncheon speaker Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner further engaged the teachers and drew frequent applause as he spoke about recent progress in advancing financial literacy in Rhode Island and the importance of Rhode Island’s CollegeBoundfund. Treasurer Magaziner informed the audience that children with 529 college accounts are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate. “The Treasurer’s Office is pleased to partner with Rhode Island Jump$tart to provide financial education to students throughout our state,” Treasurer Magaziner said. “Together, we will teach our young people how to establish good money habits, prepare them for the financial decisions that lie ahead and give them the tools needed to achieve their goals.” Treasury Director of Constituent Relations Charon Rose joined Treasurer Magaziner at the event.

Later in the afternoon, presenters Margaret Brooks and East Greenwich High School teacher and R.I. Jump$tart Vice President Pat Page provided participants with an overview of the Virtual Economics 4.5 curriculum materials developed by the Council for Economic Education. This year, Fidelity Investments provided every public school in Rhode Island with a complimentary Virtual Economics 4.5 flash drive featuring curriculum and lessons. 

The afternoon session also included lesson-sharing and table discussions led by experienced RI financial literacy educators Ann Campbell-Andrews (Smithfield), Susan Cipriano (Pawtucket), Laurie Mockler (Warwick), Anne Ricci (Bristol), Pat Page (East Greenwich), Kristin Rojas (Pawtucket Credit Union), Joy Tavano (North Kingstown), and Erica Valentine (Smithfield).

Rhode Island’s first Financial Literacy Teacher Training Initiative was organized by the R.I. Jump$tart Coalition, the Rhode Island Council for Economic Education and Fidelity Investments. Fidelity sponsored the event and provided expertise and volunteers throughout the day. Rhode Island College demonstrated its continued support for teacher education and for the advancement of financial literacy in our state, by hosting and supporting the conference.