Port State Bank covers cost of curriculum for local high school classes
Port Washington State Bank and the business education department at Port Washington High School are collaborating to bring new financial insights to students.
The bank is paying for the licensing rights to use EverFi, an online program that covers a host of everyday financial topics.
Through the use of simulations and modeling, students can see the “out of pocket” impacts of decisions involving such topics as credit scores, insurance, credit cards, taxes, investing, retirement savings and mortgages.
The program relies on the use of video, animations, 3-D gaming, avatars and social networking to simplify complex financial concepts.
“We have actually offered a personal finance class at Port for several years. What EverFi does is amplify a lot of the topics we have already been covering,” said teacher Mark Bichler, department chairman.
“The program doesn’t go into the depth we do in class, but seems to offer a great refresher on topics as students prepare for tests.”
Bichler said the school routinely works with area banks to provide speakers on topics related to finance. It was officials from Port State Bank who approached him about providing the funds for access to the EverFi program.
The online aspect of EverFi is especially attractive at Port High, which this year has accelerated its technology initiative by providing Chromebook personal computers to each student.
“We are still learning how to incorporate the technology into learning outside the classroom. Topics can be researched where ever there is access to WiFi,” Bichler said.
The greatest challenge of having the computers available is learning the discipline to use them when and as they are intended, he said.
Bichler said the Port Washington-Saukville School District has long been sold on the importance of teaching personal finance, and would like to see a way to make it a required course.
“I don’t think there is anyone who would argue that students — and adults, for that matter — need to have a better understanding of personal finance, but the challenge is finding the time in full academic schedules,” Bichler said.
“In many cases, if students aren’t learning about how to make financial decisions at home, they aren’t learning at all. You don’t have to look very hard to find stories about the consequences of making bad decisions.”
Bichler said and fellow teacher Leeann Wellenstein have about 100 students who are taking the personal finance class this year at Port High.
Port Washington State Bank President Steve Schowalter said the EverFi program is also being offered to Grafton, Ozaukee and Belgium-Cedarburg high schools.
“We strongly believe that if we can help to better educate the students of today, then they will become the financially responsible citizens of tomorrow,” Schowalter said.
“Those who take part in financial literacy training are more likely to save and to effectively manage their money and finances down the road.”
Image Information: POSING WITH CHROMEBOOK computers running the EverFi program are (front row, from left) Port Washington High School students Kelsey Brockman, Marty Franzkowiak, teacher Mark Bichler, students Jackson Struebing, Ben Sebeny, (back row) Lizzy Colden, Katelyn Buschman, Mary Albrecht and Anne Noster of Port Washington State Bank, teacher Leeann Wellenstein, and students Ezra Bretl, Colin Vogel, Jamison Soya and Jacob Liebergen. Photo by Sam Arendt