(Augusta) – The Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has awarded two Maine educators for their outstanding work in financial education. The Maine Jump$tart Financial Educator of the Year Award, established in 2012, was created to recognize an individual who has distinguished themselves through their efforts to improve the financial capability of the students and families they serve. For the first time in the history of the award, The Maine Jump$tart Coalition is pleased to honor two accomplished Maine educators. The 2019-2020 honorees, Ms. Raelene Allen of Madison High School and Ms. Samantha Drost of Central Aroostook High School, are leaders in personal finance education in Maine, and epitomize the true spirit of the award.
Raelene Allen has been bringing passion and leadership on the subject of financial literacy since she began teaching at Madison High School twenty years ago. Allen started as a business teacher, and soon expanded to teaching a senior seminar that included personal finance topics such as managing bank accounts, insurance, loans, and budgeting. When the course was eliminated, Allen took the initiative to bring personal finance back to Madison High School by attending the annual Maine Jump$tart Coalition conference and gathering the resources and training she needed. In 2009, Personal Finance was added as a course offering. Dean Collins, the Director of School Counseling, writes, “Raelene gave a presentation to the school board on the particulars of our Personal Finance course and the school board recommended that the class become a graduation requirement.” Because of Allen’s efforts, today it is a required course for all juniors at Madison High School.
Allen has been committed to increasing her own knowledge in personal finance. She became a Certified Educator in Personal Finance by completing a certification program through the Center for Financial Certifications, a division of the Institute for Financial Literacy, in Portland Maine, and has served on The Maine Jump$tart Coalition Board of Directors since 2017. In 2018, Allen was awarded a scholarship by NextGen Personal Finance for an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Jump$tart Conference in Ohio.
One of Allen’s talents as a teacher is making the lessons she teaches relevant to her students. She continually revises lesson plans to keep them current and creates activities that will engage students by making broad financial concepts applicable to them, such as comparing and contrasting different insurance plans on cell phones to decide if the benefit is worth it. She utilizes many different resources to support her lessons, such as programs from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), and integrating technology. Christopher LeBlanc, the principal of Madison High School, writes, “The online work [in Allen’s lessons] helped to utilize the technology the students loved to use and integrate personal finance into their lives.”
Raelene Allen is committed to continuing to provide excellent financial education to her students, as well as resources to her fellow teachers across Maine. “Raelene has a vested interest not only in our students but also as a professional who has stepped up to become a member of The Maine Jump$tart board,” says Dean Collins. “We are preparing our students to be able to be financially aware when they graduate and that is really due to the outstanding job that Raelene Allen is doing.”
Samantha Drost has been teaching at Central Aroostook High School for eight years, and in that time she has transformed the school’s personal finance curriculum. When she began she was assigned to teach an economics course, but her class became more focused on personal finance as the lessons included balancing a checkbook, managing a budget, and reducing debt. In her time at Central Aroostook High School, Drost has been aware of the students’ needs and she has taken action to fill any gaps she saw. When she noticed that students needed to have earlier access to college and career planning, she created a sophomore level class that focused on this subject.
Drost’s passion for financial literacy extends beyond her school, and she has been a leader in bringing financial education to all schools in Maine. “Samantha has found a new passion for teaching personal finance thanks to the Maine Jump$tart Program,” writes Dr. Kay York, the principal of Central Aroostook High School. Drost serves on The Maine Jump$tart Coalition Board of Directors, where she serves on the Program Committee. Drost was also awarded a scholarship to attend the 2018 National Jump$tart Conference, after which she returned to school “prepared and excited to bring new resources to her students including NGPF lessons, web-based games, Financial Fridays and local speakers,” says Dr. York.
Drost has continued to further her education in financial literacy by attending various FinCamps in Maine, completing virtual training with NextGen Personal Finance, and is working on earning her senior-level certification through their program.
Drost also served as a co-facilitator during the revision of the Maine Learning Results for Social Studies, which strengthened the personal finance and economics component in the state standards. In April, Drost will be teaching a webinar on personal finance for the Maine Department of Education’s social studies webinar series. To continue to expand her reach to teachers around the state, this fall Drost is applying for and hopes to be accepted as a state teacher leader for personal finance.
“Samantha’s passion has grown into expanding her knowledge to others,” writes Dr. York. “She will continue to strive to bring more education not only to her students, but the teachers in Northern Maine and the state.”
Ms. Allen and Ms. Drost will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Jump$tart Educator Conference in Washington, D.C. this November, where they will network with financial educators from across the country and gather resources to use in the classroom. In addition to the award, Ms. Allen and Ms. Drost will each receive a $500 financial education grant from Machias Savings Bank. They will be formally honored at the 2020 Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools Conference on May 8th at the Augusta Civic Center. The Maine Jump$tart Coalition is thrilled to grant this award to such hardworking and dedicated educators as Raelene Allen of Madison High School and Samantha Drost of Central Aroostook High School.