We proudly support Financial Literacy Month and recognize our teachers and partners across the country in their efforts to further this critical skill set – not only in April but every day, all year long. This month we’ll be featuring our teacher ambassadors as they share how they inspire their students to become financially literate using our free digital resources.
Jessica Lemmo has taught in Baltimore City Public Schools for over 15 years and currently serves as president of the Baltimore City Reading Council. She is dual certified in Early Child Education and Library Media and also has a minor in Special Education. As a professional development leader, she presents on educational technology at conferences both locally and at a state level. She holds certifications in EdTech withEVERFI as a FinLit and STEM Certified Teacher, DEN (Discovery Educational Network) Ambassador, Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified Teacher, and more.
Jessica is currently teaching library media technology students from pre-K to 8th grade. She uses Vault – Understanding Money to tie in financial literacy into her curriculum, covering topics like creating bank accounts, saving, and planning for the future.
Q: Do you work on specific skills with your students to help them set short term and long term goals?
A: Yes – I recently used Vault – Understanding Money with my fourth and fifth graders to discuss the difference between financial short term and long term goals. We have conversations where they learn to categorize different goals – like if they wanted to go to a special concert, that would be a short term goal while saving money towards college would be a long term goal. So we do have conversations relating the concept to money, but we also set short and long term goals academically and for life.
For example, I always work on typing within my class because everything we do is technology-related. Each student has an annual word-per-minute goal they work towards and we take regular tests throughout the year to measure their progress. I have a wall of fame where they can move their name up the scale the faster they get. Understanding, planning, and pacing toward goals is a real-world skill that will serve students both financially and for the future.
Q: How have you seen the Vault program influence learning in your classroom?
A: Vault has helped my students get a better grasp on financial literacy and why it’s important. They learn why saving is important, as well as the different methods they can use to save.
Vault has also helped us dive into deeper discussions. I actually had a big conversation with the students as they worked on the digital lessons about why they should save in a bank versus just putting their money away at home in their piggy bank. We talked about what would be a good choice for their situation, and what the benefits were of saving with a bank versus at home. It’s really interesting to sit down and talk with them about it, especially since some have never had the opportunity to even consider these questions unless they had experienced it at home.
I could see the ah-ha moments happen for quite a few students and it was interesting to see them determine in that moment to open a bank account and start to earn interest. I feel like the simulations are very helpful in bringing situations to life for students, especially if they’ve never experienced or considered how to save money before. Vault is a great way to present these new concepts with real-world applications.
Q: Do you hear that students are taking financial conversations home to discuss with their families?
A: Yes! I have some students whose parents have given them prepaid bank cards, and they’ve had them since they started middle school. I know when I was growing up, my parents gave me limits on my card, and that was years ago. Some of them even get jobs over the summer because Baltimore City Schools have work programs they can get involved with at 14 years old. You can really start to see where they’ve had conversations with somebody about things such as earning money and how to spend and save responsibly.
Q: What is the community impact of financial literacy education?
A: I’ve had a parent or two comment to me that their children have started up conversations about bank accounts and saving with them after using Vault, or students telling me that they went to the bank over the weekend. Every time I start the course with my students, I communicate to their parents what we’re going to cover and provide them with as many resources as I can on Vault. Outside of those small interactions, I think that community impact will develop more over time, especially as my students move into high school.