Economics teacher Teresa Zesati reminds her students everyday that in a few short months they will be finished with high school and off to make their marks in the real world.
Her goal for each of those students is for them to have a 10-year plan, mapping out where they want to be and how they will accomplish that.
“I tell them that in six months you will be out in the real world, and how many of you have a plan?,” said the first-year instructor at Calaveras Hills High School where she teaches economics, government and cultural history classes. “They need to know the steps it takes to get them where they want to be.”
Senior Ethan Tan, 17, understands the importance of financial literacy as he maps out his future after high school. “It’s definitely something every student should learn,” Tan said. “We are learning how we should be saving, building up our credit scores, and putting money aside for other things.”
Zesati opened the second quarter by introducing how the banking system works, how to open a bank account, the difference between a bank and a credit union, and how credit and credit cards work. As part of the lesson, students played a simulation computer game where they chose a career, learned the hours and pay for that occupation, and then had to figure out how to survive a month with expenses on their own.
“My goal is for them all to have a 10-year plan by the end of this section. Where are you going to be and how did you get there?,” said Zesati, who uses her own life experiences to demonstrate the challenges one must overcome along the way.
Students then were given $100,000 to use in the stock market in another simulation activity. They first learned about how the stock market works and how to build a portfolio. Some put all their money into one company while others spread their money around, Zesati explained.
“We use MarketWatch. It’s fake money but real stocks. You have to decide when to sell and when to buy stocks,” said 17-year-old senior Alex Smith, who plans to join the Marines and work in the electrical field. “I’m learning so much.”
She makes sure that students do some self-reflection each step of the way: Why does it matter? How does it affect me and how does it affect the community? How can I change that for the better?
“Everything we are doing I want them to connect the dots to their 10-year plan and the steps it is going to take to get there,” Zesati said. “I always remind them the real world starts in a few months so you’ve got to have a plan.”
The class touches on many topics, including cycles of poverty and how to break those cycles in underserved communities; education and school funding for public and private schools; areas of food scarcity; and financial aid for college.
“Talking with her convinced me to go to college,” said senior Diego Garcia, 17, who has applied for enrollment into San Jose City College.
Last week, students used a money tracker to track how much they spent in a month compared to how much they earn. Zesati created a template for them to use in class and beyond. They also came up with a dream budget and again were challenged with how they can get there.
“It helps them learn how to manage their money better,” she added. “I want them to figure out where they need to be to be financially stable in the real world.”
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.