Financial Literacy Champion Award

Financial Literacy Champion Award Presented to Wanda Whittemore

wendy rea et all

Springfield, VT: Wendy Rea Co-President of the Vermont Jump$tart Coalition awarded Wanda (JJ) Whittemore the Vermont Jump$tart Coalition Financial Literacy Champion Award at the 2019 Office of the State Treasurer Financial Literacy Awards Ceremony. 

This award is given to an individual to recognize their leadership and outstanding achievements in the effort to advance Financial Literacy of Vermont youth.  Whittemore was nominated by Patricia Reixach, Instructional Coach at Riverside Middle School Springfield Vermont.

Whittemore grew up in Alstead Center, New Hampshire and attended Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, NH. She attended Keene State College, majoring in education and graduated with a BS in Home Economics. Whittemore has been teaching at the Riverside Middle School Springfield Vermont for over 30 years.

When asked about when she first became interested in teaching financial literacy Whittemore said “Home economics now called Family & Consumer Science, always had a financial component, though mostly at the secondary level. In the 1990’s I started to add more and more consumer elements to my curriculum. I developed a game that was very hands-on to encourage a greater depth of learning and then a Canadian company released a commercially made game that was even better.  At the middle school level, students explored careers, monthly budgets, consumer issues and other components that helped them further their knowledge. Additionally, I decided to have students “earn” FACS dollars every class to navigate minimum wage, taxes, savings, and spending. At the end of 3 years, if students saved money they could calculate 10% of their FACS balance. That amount was turned into real money and would be donated to a charity of their choice. The Humane Society was often the #1 selection, though they donated to the Red Cross after the Haiti earthquake, Save the Seas and more. They could also bequeath FACS money to younger siblings. The funds would wait for those students to get to my class.”

Whittemore explained that we are a society that functions with money. She thinks that as a nation we are not as thoughtful about preparing for the future through saving or investing. She said “Some adults struggle with debt and money management. Many students have not considered connections to college and loans. Somewhere students need to learn options to help manage their money.” She attended the Vermont JumpStart Coalition Conferences and last summer the Champlain College Financial Literacy course that ignited her drive to wrap more around the FACS class for middle-level students! Her administrators were extremely supportive in offering a brand-new enrichment course for students. She chose an Entrepreneurship program. Whittemore explained that her students wrote business plans and had the chance to set up a booth with their business products at the community holiday fair in 2018. A few businesses continued filling orders into 2019. They are exploring Farmer’s Markets as a future venue. Since the fair, students have been coming up to her to see if they can sign up for the entrepreneur class next year. High school students have emailed her that they are so glad that they learned about money as they get jobs or open checking/debit accounts. Whittemore thinks that students enjoy learning about real-world finances.

Whittemore said, “I am thankful to the Vermont JumpStart Coalition for this delightful honor and it suggests that both students and colleagues find value in my offering financial literacy at the middle school level.”

To learn more about the Vermont Jump$tart Coalition and the 2019 Financial Literacy Conference on October 28 at the Killington Grand Hotel and Conference Center contact Nancy Zorn at vtjumpstart@comcast.net