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Brookfield Central students get lesson in financial literacy

Spring Bank backs popular class

Nov. 6, 2012

Partnering with a local bank, Brookfield Central High School is making sure that literacy extends beyond the classic core studies of reading and writing.

After a successful introduction last spring, more than 300 Central students this year are learning the lifelong skills of everyday money management through an online financial literacy platform, courtesy of Brookfield-based Spring Bank.

Students taking the elective studies through a shorter piece of an economics block or in a longer personal finance class block are learning about a range of fiscal issues, including credit scores, insurance, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, taxes, stocks and savings. It is an interactive platform by EverFi, an education technology platform company that teams companies and foundations to bring the latest technology to critical skills in a variety of study areas.

Private support means the programs are provided at no cost to the schools.

Positive classroom

The financial literacy platform has been helpful, said those involved at the high school.

"I am interested in learning about the various types of businesses and financial transactions," said Luke Reuteman, a freshman. "I'm learning about checking accounts and how to be vigilant with money."

He said a lot of this interest stems from his dad's involvement as director of business development at Racine Danish Kringles/Legacy Bakery.

Family ties as well as personal interest attracted junior Jessica Stricker to the class. Her dad owns H.K. Logistics, a high-tech warehousing operation in New Berlin.

"I've learned how to keep track of money," Stricker said. "I have been more aware of what I buy. I don't buy the most expensive thing, and I definitely kept track of money. I think what I learn here will be very helpful in the future."

Teacher Dan Wandrey said there was no shortage of students interested in the courses.

"As soon as the classes became available, they filled up," said Wandrey, who also is chairman of the business education department.

He called the program practical for people of any age.

"I wish someone would have taught me with this information in high school," Wandrey said. "Kids need to understand the impact of things like credit cards, debt and bank accounts, and that being able to advocate for yourself when it comes to finances is really important."

Individual attention

Each 90-minute class mixes instructor training with self-directed study. Wandrey noted that the program platform supports that self-study through graphics and real-world examples. Depending on an early assessment of each student's knowledge, the program is set to go at an individual rate.

"It's really great because the students get what they need," Wandrey said.

Spring Bank President Dave Schuelke said his 4-year-old business has brought the program to the Elmbrook School District for two reasons.

"First, we are a relatively new business in Brookfield and we wanted to give back to the community in a very meaningful, but targeted way," Schuelke said. "Early on, I decided to support financial education as one of those targets. The other reason is that, down the road, I would love to see more adults be savvy about their finances."

Schuelke also said he liked the idea that for many students, the interactive Web-based class may be the first experience some students have with web-based learned.

"I think that this is the wave of the future," Schuelke said.

The Brookfield Central alum said he also hopes to provide EverFi in other Elmbrook schools.

"We have made a three-year commitment," he said. "So far, the feedback has been very positive. We would like to have more schools decide to add this to their curriculum."

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