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Highlands Teacher Named Financial Literacy Teacher of the Year

From balancing a checkbook to making a budget to planning for retirement, the lessons of personal finance can stay with students for a lifetime.

At the October meeting of the Fort Thomas Board of Education, Marlee Barton, a family and consumer science teacher at Highlands High and Highlands Middle schools, was honored for her work teaching middle school students the ins and outs of day-to-day finance.

Named 2017 Financial Literacy Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, Barton’s project-based approach is what drew attention.

"Marlee’s outstanding work with financial literacy in her classroom is what earned her this award," said Connie Witt of the Kentucky Department of Education. "She is only in her third year of teaching, however, she’s done a great job of incorporating project-based learning, and all of us in education know that’s how students learn best."

Barton, a Highlands alumna, said that fellow teacher Elise Carter wrote a letter of recommendation, after her seventh grade students took first, second and third places in the statewide financial literacy poster contest.

She said she loves to teach her students practical, everyday finance.

“We learn how to write checks, recording it in our register, saving money, budgeting or just how to comparison shop,” she said. “We also relate it to Family Consumer Science since that’s what I teach at the high school level. It’s real world skills.”

Highlands Middle School Principal, Michael Howton, helped design the course with Barton. He said Barton has done a fantastic job at evolving the course from a simple financial literacy course to include more real world applicable experiences. 

“She is very deserving of the 2017 award and we are all very proud of the work she's doing with our students,” he said. “She has really worked hard to make this course applicable to real life skills that they will find useful throughout life.”

Witt listed some of Barton’s projects including a career assessment exercise that considered pay levels in the greater Cincinnati area, a budgeting exercise for housing, utilities and living expenses, and a child development career research project.

"In addition to the projects, her everyday lesson plans incorporate financial literacy in every aspect of what she does from seventh through 12th grade," added Witt.

Financial literacy throughout the state is a big focus of the governor as well as educators, she said. The Kentucky Jump$tart Coalition is devoted to increasing awareness, motivating and educating all citizens of the Commonwealth on this topic.

School Board Chair Brad Fennell thanked Barton for her outstanding work.

"No disrespect to any of our teachers or any of our students, but some have unbelievable ACT scores, SAT scores, but they don’t have a practical understanding of this topic. I’m thrilled, not only that you are teaching financial literacy, but that you are doing such a fantastic job."

The award includes $250 that can be used for classroom materials or to attend training as well as paid registration for the national Jump$tart Financial Literacy Summit in Washington D.C. in November.

-Staff report

Photo: Marlee Barton (provided)