In the News

Financial Education Starting Earlier

Danville and Pittsylvania County Schools, local credit union and the Virginia state curriculum have recently emphasized the importance of learning about personal finance in a student’s life with new classes, tools and graduation requirements.

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“The skills that they learn in personal finance govern everything that they do,” said Joyce Culley, a fi-nance and economics teacher at Galileo Magnet High School.

Last year, the Virginia Department of Education began requiring high school students to take a personal finance course in order to graduate. Culley, who teaches the course at Galileo, said students learn about everything from balancing checking accounts to different type of credit and the importance of insurance.

It’s important for students to realize now, not when they are making those decisions,” Culley said.

Bonner Middle School Academically Gifted teacher Toni Harvey uses a Banzaii finance program to teach her students real-life finance scenarios they can relate to. She said the results of the program are clearly visible.

“They have to make decisions about where to put their money,” she said. “You can really see the growth.”

The students also learn about larger financial responsibilities in the community, state and nation. Harvey said her students begin to see connections between how they think about finance and its impact on the economy.

“We have to apply good budget skills at home and then apply it to our communities,” she said.

The Banzaii program is supplied to schools through a partnership with the Piedmont Credit Union.

“We have always had sort of a pretty strong connection to the schools,” said spokesperson Dan Veasey, mentioning that local teachers were the original patrons of the credit union.

Local schools often have Veasey come and teach students about aspects of banking and finance. Veasey said it helps for students to have any kind of exposure to financial responsibility lessons.

“Really, for a person to really experience success, they really have to pay attention to their finances,” he said.

Culley said teachers are also beginning to teach students and their parents earlier about student loans and investing for college. Student loan debt in the United States has increased to $1.2 trillion in the last few years, with lower-income student at private for-profit institutions being the most affected.

“Talking about investment, a lot of people don’t realize different types of investments they can make even when their kids are small,” Culley said.

Galileo also entered a partnership last school year with URW Federal Credit Union to put an entirely- student run branch on the school campus. Students operate the branch before and after classes and earn wages for their time running the service. Those students can also choose to work at other branches both on the weekends and after graduation.

Veasey said he is excited about the possibility of further partnerships with area schools.

“We’re looking toward the future and to expand practical financial information,” he said.

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit or call 888-8-BANZAI.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.