Summit helps teachers with financial education

Teachers from the William S. Hart Union School District discuss the motivation behind teaching a financial education course this upcoming semester. The 3rd annual summer finance summit was held at the William S. Hart Union School District building Tuesday morning. Eddy Martinez/The Signal

In an effort to provide students with the financial skills necessary to navigate the world, two local businesswomen have partnered with the William S. Hart Union High School District to bring a personal finance class to Santa Clarita Valley students.

“Everybody likes money, everybody needs money and everybody knows somebody who’s been destroyed by money,” said Kim Arnold, a math teacher at Canyon High School and the district’s first finance instructor. Similar to reading and writing, it’s critical that students learn how to responsibly handle their finances, she said.

This is why two local SCV businesses, Neylan Group International and, have taken it upon themselves to sponsor the class and advocate for the expansion of the finance program since 2014.

Every summer, Heter and various Hart district educators gather at the annual summer finance summit to share their experiences with the teachers who will instruct a finance class in the upcoming school year.

This year, more than a dozen teachers were in attendance at Tuesday’s summit, including those from private schools and independent study groups.

“You can imagine what SCV would look like if the next generation started managing their money better,” summit organizer Brendi Heter said. “We found it so important that we are paying for it to make sure our kids have access to it.”

It took a couple of years to get on the the district’s class schedule, Arnold said, “but once the class was up and running, it became really popular very quickly.”

The math teacher added that she got involved because she was tired of listening to brilliant kids and their wonderful plans that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt because of school.

“I thought we’ve got to teach them how to evaluate and make smart choices, so 10 years from now they aren’t financially devastated,” Arnold said.

Students don’t want to be stressed out about money, she added. They want to learn how to take control of it so it can be a blessing, which is why the program is expanding.

“There are six brand new teachers who will teach a finance class next year,” which means the class will now available at 13 Santa Clarita schools, Arnold said. “We’ve even expanded to the point where we need two teachers at Canyon, now.”

After hearing about the class’ success in the Hart district, Lynn Kistler, director of academics at Santa Clarita Christian School, hoped to include the curriculum at SCCS, “and it’s already generated a ton of interest with our parents and students.”

With the recommendation of sponsor Sam Neylan, Kistler said SCCS will offer the new course to incoming freshman in a one-semester course.

Hart currently offers the program to seniors in the district, Arnold said, but the goal is to eventually put every student in the SCV through the class.

“I want the next generation of SCV residents to make better decisions with finances,” Heter said.

“Are you a kid, do you use money or one day plan to use money?” she said, “then we need to talk to you.”

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