Hamden Hall Upper School students now have the opportunity to gain knowledge and build a better financial understanding to prepare them for the future with a new course offering, Personal Finance and Economics.
Instructed by Associate Director of College Counseling Carole Bird and College Counselor Kristopher Henaire, the course is an elective offering for both juniors and seniors interested in learning more about personal finance and investments. The class meets four times a week at the Whitney House building located behind the College Counseling offices.
“For several years now, we have discussed adding a course that covers personal finance,” said Head of School Bob Izzo. “We are fortunate that both Carole and Kris have a background in finance and can share their knowledge with our students. It is so important for our young people to learn about how things like loans work, the interest cost associated with borrowing money, insurance, taxes, etc. I am quite confident that after taking this course our students will be better prepared to make decisions that will have an impact on their futures."
The new course provides students with a comprehensive overview of both the basic fundamentals and the essential elements of personal finance, including foundational principles of earning, spending, saving, borrowing and investing.
“Learning about financial literacy in a practical sense and providing resources through a class helps students better understand money management and what to expect in the future,” commented Mr. Henaire.
The idea for this type of course grew out of ongoing conversations between Mr. Izzo and Class of 1947 alumna Carol Nutile Burke, Ph.D. According to Mr. Izzo, Carol always cited the importance of teaching young people about personal finances. Carol, who was a longtime professor in UConn’s Pathobiology Department, is also a past grandparent – her granddaughter, Madeline Belt, graduated with Hamden Hall’s Class of 2012.
A recent project in the Personal Finance and Economics class taught students about investment portfolios and how to build and diversify stock options. To relate this classroom lesson to a real-world application, students were instructed to research companies to invest in and create presentations on their decisions. The synopsis of the presentation was to imagine themselves at 22 years old with $350 left after paying bills, loans, and other financial needs. The money had to be dispersed among different companies and stock options to create a portfolio. After completing the research, students presented their portfolios to the class.
Each group shared what they invested in, why they chose those particular companies or stock options, and the associated risks and rewards. Graphics had to be included as well to show the percentages and breakdown of each investment. The presentations concluded with questions and a self-evaluation by each group.
While the elective is still new to the curriculum, both Mrs. Bird and Mr. Henaire said they would like to see the course expand to include offerings for both fall and spring semesters with an increase in the class size. Ideally, students would take field trips to banks or financial businesses for educational learning. For in-class workshops, guest speakers in different business sectors including banking, economics, entrepreneurial management, and more would be invited to campus to speak with the students about their experiences and how to make better financial choices.
“It's incredibly important that we better prepare young adults as they're thinking about their choices that they're making about their college career and beyond," said Mrs. Bird. "Understanding how to save, how to budget, how to manage your finances is a lifelong skill that can really change the trajectory of your life. This type of course is beneficial to all.”