Have you ever been in the middle of a task and asked yourself, “Why wasn’t I taught how to do this in school?” Well, ASPIRE Community Day School is working on reducing these questions. Starting during the spring semester, Allen Kruse, a first year teacher, began a Life Skills class to teach life management skills to better prepare students for life after high school.
Students in Life Skills are taught how to write resumes, balance a checking account, invest in retirement, apply for health insurance, write thank you notes, send invitations, are given mock interviews, and much more! Kruse has entered his students into the National H&R Block Budget Challenge and it has turned the learning up a notch. The competition is based on a person’s ability to balance current and future cash needs, pay bills on time and on budget, and understand financial concepts. Every two weeks students are “paid” by Mr. Kruse for their attendance in class at $22 an hour, double the minimum wage. Students had to research which retirement options, credit cards, health insurance, apartments, auto insurance, and utilities they would use for the semester. Every so often, an obstacle is given to them and they have to budget how they will fix the issue. For example, a student’s car would break down so the student would need to research local repair shops and receive quotes. After they receive a quote, they have to budget where the money would come from.
“I was surprised with the lack of technological research skills our students had,” said Kruse. He said students needed a lot of help with researching careers and colleges and “it showed the importance of what I’m teaching them.”
Kruse is using class time to provide as much information and best practices to his students as he can. The class has reviewed couponing, discussed property taxes, and priorities. He said he is trying to get students in the mindset of asking which challenge is a higher priority. He has been helping students write a resume and is working with the school’s photo-journalism teacher, Robert Oliver, to provide headshots for each of his students.
The class has been eye opening for all of us, said Kruse. Both he and his students have taken a lot away since the class began. He said he is thankful for the H&R Block Budget Challenge, because not only does it allow his students to learn about money management but they offer scholarships. Kyle Roberts, a senior at ASPIRE, is currently ranked 232 out of thousands of students competing nationwide.
Thank you Mr. Kruse for providing information to students so they are better prepared for life after high school!