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Personal Finance now an elective for Madison middle school students

Maggie Jo Effinger, at right, gives a report during "Money - Personal Finance," a new elective at Discovery Middle School taught by Carrie Maxwell, at left. (CONTRIBUTED)
Maggie Jo Effinger, at right, gives a report during “Money – Personal Finance,” a new elective at Discovery Middle School taught by Carrie Maxwell, at left. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Elective classes for students in Liberty and Discovery middle schools have mushroomed with a five-block school day.

After meeting with teachers, residents and business leaders, Madison administrators determined the middle schools needed more electives as a sampling of high school options, Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley said.

“Not only did we offer multiple fine art and core subject electives, we’re incorporating electives, such as ‘Money,’ ‘Public Speaking’ and ‘Study Skills’ that will teach students ‘life’ skills they’ll utilize throughout their educational years and careers,” Barkley said.

One popular elective is the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy. “We’re partnering with numerous businesses and groups to explore different careers available to students,” Barkley said.

Discovery and Liberty have increased electives from five to 34 options, accommodated by changing schedules to a five-block day, instead of four. “So far, parent and student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s an exciting time to be a middle school student in Madison,” Barkley said.

At Discovery, Carrie Maxwell teaches “Money – Personal Finance.” “The foundation is a budget project where students research a job and pay within the first five years,” Maxwell said.

Adept for this class, Maxwell has a finance degree and banking background. “I cannot tell you how many times I thought we needed a class (about) managing money,” Maxwell said. She hopes students will be better prepared for the future and avoid mistakes that many people make.

Students will learn about income tax, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, IRAs and purchasing versus leasing. “Learning to save money” is one major recommendation, Maxwell said.

“They’ve learned to write checks and balance a checkbook,” she said. Maxwell shares scenarios about lazy checkbook habits that she witnessed while managing customer service at a bank for three years.

Online, finance students searched about possible careers, required training, experience and salary. Their top career choices were physician, veterinarian, software and game designers and engineer.

From the class, Maxwell hopes students will be aware of spending and avoid unnecessary debt.

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