JHS Teacher Makes Big Gains at Financial Literacy Conference

When it comes to fiscal responsibility, the Johnston High School business teachers are masters of making ends meet.

That’s why when it came time to find funding to attend the Jump$tart National Educator Conference, Kayla Bousum got resourceful.

Kayla Bousum at the Jump$tart conference

JHS Business Teacher Kayla Bousum recently attended the 2017 Jump$tart Financial Literacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Jump$tart conference annually brings together K-12 teachers from across the nation to discuss financial literacy curriculum. Bousum said teachers come from all walks of the education world, such as family & consumer sciences, economics, business, and social studies.

“In Johnston, we have been teaching some form of financial literacy in grades 8-12 for a while,” said Bousum. “Now, it’s a graduation requirement for all seniors. Going to the conference was a great way to meet other financial literacy educators and learn of new classroom resources.”

To pay for the trip out to Washington, D.C. and conference expenses, Bousum started with local credit unions and asked for scholarships. She was pleasantly surprised to receive checks from the University of Iowa Credit Union and the Serve Credit Union to cover her conference costs as well as the flight and other incidentals.

In 2016, Bousum and fellow JHS business teacher Lexi Shafer attended the Jump$tart conference, but as part of a school grant from classes participating – and doing well – in H&R Block personal budget challenge. Shafer was scheduled to attend the 2017 conference on a scholarship from Next Gen Personal Finance, but elected to wait and attend in 2018.

“The conference is such a great learning experience for anyone who attends,” said Bousum. “The companies who are presenting learning sessions really know what sort of skills to teach at the different grade levels to build smarter, more financially savvy young adults,” said Bousum.

Among the takeaways from the conference, Bousum said each session she attended gave her insight for classroom material.

“I attended one session on the differences in spending habits for each generation,” Bousum said. “That may seem like basic information, but because I’m a different generation than my students, this insight as to what they may be thinking or experiencing when spending is helpful to me as I create the curriculum. Material has to be relevant to students in order for them to engage with it. The more the assignments are likened to their lives, the better the participation and understanding will be.”

Bousum said that in speaking with her peers from across the country, she saw Johnston’s efforts to promote financial literacy far outpacing other schools and districts.

Kayla Bousum stands behind a cutout of a financial hero at a conference

Bousum said the conference provided many learning takeaways – and quite a bit of fun – to educators from across the nation.

“It’s satisfying to know that we are doing the right things and giving our kids skills and knowledge they might not find in other schools,” said Bousum.

While Bousum said the conference experience was more than enough to keep her energized and passionate about financial literacy, she also won a raffle for 50 new calculators for her classroom.

“Little things like that make a difference,” said Bousum. “I had so much fun, learned a ton, and am already looking forward to the next one.”