Meet H&R Block Budget Challenge Classroom Grant Winner: Mrs. Sherry Brown (Part 2)
Sherry Brown, a 12th grade economics and government teacher in Guntersville, Ala., and her students won a total of $227,500 in prizes through the H&R Block Budget Challenge earlier this year. Guntersville High School, where Brown teaches, won two grants, and 11 of the students each won $20,000 scholarships. We caught up with Sherry to learn more about her experience with the simulation and what she’s doing with her grant money.
During the simulation, did you find that some students that weren’t known for excelling academically really shined when playing the H&R Block Budget Challenge game?
What I saw was the kids who are the smartest vs. the hard-working kids. The hard-working kids really prevailed in this, which to me is great because a lot of times I see these kids and they may not be the smartest, but they work so hard. There were no ways to outsmart the simulation, and you had to keep on it and work hard.
Did you notice any students taking what they learned from the H&R Block Budget Challenge and bringing it home to their parents or families?
I have noticed more parents saying their kids are going home and talking about what they’re learning in school, which is something I have not seen in the past. I had more parents come to me and say “Oh yeah, we were helping them with this the other night” or “We were looking at this…” and I know they’re going home and talking to their parents about school and finances and the Budget Challenge, and that’s something we don’t normally see.
What have the student reactions been after the H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation?
I have some students who would say, “This is so great.” I even have some that think every student before they graduate should be required to do the H&R Block Budget Challenge. I have some who were almost a scholarship winner that wanted to play again. Some students actually went on to help other students from our rival school system which was participating in the next simulation because they wanted them to do well.
What have you done with the grant money that your classroom won?
So far we have purchased six Macbooks, a “smartcart” and a scanner and projector for my classroom that will help me for years to come. We also took the class that won the grant last year on a field trip at the end of the year to Montgomery and spent the night and went to Selma the next day. When we were in Montgomery, they got to visit the State Capitol and see the House of Representatives and were recognized by the Speaker of the House. That was a big moment for them.
With the remaining money, my goal is to take the senior class on a trip to Talladega to where they do a program to see how NASCAR racing impacts the economy. I thought that introducing the financial side of racing would be a really cool lesson, especially for the kids that love the sport, and for whom it might be hard to get interested in that side of the business.
Do you think there should be more financial literacy education in high schools across the country?
Absolutely. Finance is a major part of life. It doesn’t matter what career the students choose or path they take, they’re all going to need to be financially literate to help them in their lives. I think that is an area where some schools do fail their students because they’re not being taught that subject in schools, and I think that can contribute to financial problems later on in life as adults.
(*Responses were edited for clarity)