I’d like to dedicate this short piece to a fellow community member. She is not someone credited with incredible generosity or outstanding leadership. She was a high school teacher who I studied under for one subject, 12th grade Economics. We weren’t especially close, but she managed to contribute to my life in a way that still impacts me almost 10 years later.
At the beginning of the year, I was really excited for the class as it was something practical, and didn’t involve much math. We covered the history of monetary systems, basic principals like supply and demand, and how investments work.
For the first few months of the year, she put on a tough front. She deducted points from the next exam for anything over a whisper. She gave points to us in the same manner, but by the experienced age of 17, we felt like this kind of reward system was petty. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much input, so we just lived with it.
By about January, she loosened up. She got to know us better and due to the numerous activities seniors were part of, her class size was often a lot smaller than it had been. The point system pretty much disappeared, and instead, the learning style allowed for more audience participation.
We debated interesting ideas (what a rarity in high school) — immigration, Communism vs Capitalism, and I’m proud to say I still remember the difference between stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. She encouraged us to start saving for retirement as soon as we turned 18, and if we put away a few thousand dollars for the first few years, by the time we’d hit 65, we’d have a million bucks. We took aptitude tests to determine what careers would make sense for us, and laughed at the funny results we received.
As a camp counselor for a few years, I got to know her as a mom as well, and noticed her quiet display of gratitude to us, and her joy to pick up her child from our care.
When I was 22, a friend’s mother advertised her services as an investment banker and I decided to take her up on her offer to manage my account. I don’t have anything major saved, but I know I’m doing something for my future. When friends, neighbors, or Facebook groups ask financial questions, I’m both in a position to understand the request and offer some basic advice.
This woman unfortunately passed away suddenly a few years ago, and my deepest sympathy goes to her family. I have even more sadness for the future students at my school; teens who will miss out on learning valuable information from a great teacher and role model.
So thank you.