Villa Hills, Kentucky, U.S.A.
A young student in one of her business law classes was the stereotype of teen that a teacher sometimes mentally writes off as one who is not listening to anything being said. She always spent a few days talking about money in whatever class she was teaching, and he did not seem to be paying attention to that, either. She knew he had a girl friend who was pregnant and Judi truthfully did not expect him to be listening.
A few years later, she received a note in her mailbox with a telephone number to call, accompanied by a name which sounded familiar, but could not place. It was this young man, who said, “I now have a three-year-old daughter that I want to start an education fund for. I know you said don’t put it in a CD, but I can’t remember exactly what you said.” Is it not wonderful that he remembered enough to call her for more information? It appears he was listening after all!
Judi was born in Covington, Kentucky, and graduated from Boone County High School, in Florence, KY. She received her initial teacher training at Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, KY, taking her student teaching at their Model High School (the children of EKU teachers and professors).
She had applied for two other high schools in the city because she did not want to be responsible for teaching the professors’ teenagers. However, her fears were allayed when she discovered that the students were intelligent and eager to learn. In contrast, when she went from there to teach in an inner city school, her experience was drastically different.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Education from the Easter Kentucky University and a Master’s degree in Education from University of Cincinnati, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
She began teaching in 1967 and retired in 2001. In between, she took several years off to be a stay-at-home mom with a daughter – now 40 and a special education teacher – and twin sons – now 36, both working at Fidelity Investments. Her two daughters-in-law are also teachers.
Her teaching career began at Holmes High School, in Covington, KY, in 1967. She moved to her Alma Mater, Boone County High School, in Florence, KY, in 1987, where she taught until she retired in 2001. It was fun having the sons and daughters of her former classmates and friends from high school.
Judi has taught from grade 9 to grade 12. Her subjects were general business, typing and keyboarding, shorthand (now obsolete), computer applications, business law, and her favourites, accounting I and II and finance. The largest classes which she taught had 35 to 38 students.
Holmes High School was, and still is, an inner city facility. The site of the former Holmes Castle was donated to the city for a school. The school was definitely an old building at the time. The student population, including the middle school, was about 1,200. She taught classes in grades 9 to 12. There were certainly challenges to inspire teens whose families may not have valued an education. Judi was there in the turbulent 1960s, but she never felt threatened or afraid. To the benefit of all, the administration was strong. Judi has encountered many students in later years who have thanked her for caring when it seemed no one else did.
She received the Ashland Oil Golden Apple Award in 1993. This was part of Ashland Oil’s Teacher Achievement Awards Programme. Recipients represent the top 15 per cent of more than 11,000 nominations in a 4-state area. They are recognized for teaching methods, philosophies, and clear concern for the needs of individual students. Then in 1995, she was listed with Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
A few years ago, she was in line at the cash register in Walgreen’s when a young couple spoke to her. The lady asked if Judi used to teach at Holmes. She answered in the affirmative, “Yes, a hundred years ago!” The lady proceeded to relate that Judi had been her teacher for shorthand and the impact which that experience had made on her. This is what teachers everywhere want to hear! She revealed that she had hated to go home in the afternoon and that Judi always told her what a good reader she was and encouraged her participation. She made the comment that she had not done much with her life because she had not gone to college. The former teacher emphatically told her that this definitely was not true. She was married to the very pleasant young man with her and she had children who were doing well in middle and high school. She had broken the cycle! The encounter was so completely humbling. Judi did not remember her former student, but she was thrilled to know of having made a small difference in her life and that the lady would remember her teacher so many years later.
There are always students whom one cannot reach, even when sincerely wanting to help them. The biggest challenge in her 30+ years of teaching has been the parents. While the majority of parents still value an education and are very supportive, there are many who believe that their teens can do no wrong and tend to blame everyone else, including teachers. Teachers are really not out to destroy your child! They really do want to help. There have been parents who yelled and screamed at her over the telephone. One distraught mother said that she was sick and tired of teachers with “attitudes”. One even appeared at the classroom door, garbed in skin-tight leather pants, high heeled boots, and low-cut top – and talked to her daughter across the room while Judi was trying to teach.
In 1994, as student banks in Kentucky were new, she created one at Boone County High School with the help of a local bank. The students had regular savings accounts, CDs (certificates of deposit), and “Prom Accounts” (similar to the old Christmas Club savings accounts). There was also provision for loans to students for yearbooks and lunches. Judi was extremely determined to collect on these loans because she wanted students to learn that they had a responsibility to repay debts, even if they seem insignificant. She had to write off as noncollectable only two or three of the hundreds of lunch loans the student bank had made over the years – a major achievement!
The lack of understanding about money is widespread in her country. Judi is firmly convinced that the population would not be in quite the current economic situation if the education system had provided financial training in the schools. Parents will talk about drugs and sex before they will talk about money. Many – and possibly most – teens do not have very good role models in their parents. Parents hide the fact that they cannot afford things or continue to buy their children everything, which does nothing to prepare them for being on their own – and NOT being able to afford everything that they want. They also have no concept of the cost of living on their own or a realistic view of how much they will earn.
She began talking to teens about money in the finance class that ran the student bank. Even though she talked about long-term investing, not short-term wants, they listened. (Sometimes they are much smarter than the credit adults give them!) She started reading and doing some research, which later developed into the mission that she carried over to her retirement.
Judi has been blessed to be able to put her passion into helping teens and young adults. She has written two finance books for teens. The first, published in 2007, is Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? This opened many doors for her to speak in area high schools, colleges, youth groups, and even such adult organizations as Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. The more that she spoke, the more that she realized that the lack of financial education has been a huge factor in contributing to the economic condition of her country.
In 2010, she was asked by Goodheart-Willcox, a textbook publisher in Chicago, to create a supplementary financial workbook for high school students that could be used in any curriculum. Becoming Money $mart was published in 2011. It is a hands-on simulation with problems, internet activities, and very practical information that everyone needs to know. It includes pay cheques and deductions, budgeting, insurance, loans, paying for higher education, and sound advice for investing for the future. Goodheart-Willcox actually flew her to Texas right after the book was published to lead two in-service programmes for Dallas teachers. What an awesome experience that was! Becoming Money $mart is on JumpStart’s recommended list and has an exceptional rating from the Stockton College Center for Economic and Financial Literacy. The greatest thing about this book is that she is able to reach so many more students during her retirement than she ever did while she was teaching! It is so exciting, but a tremendous responsibility.
She has been on the Financial Services Skills Standards testing committee for the Kentucky Department of Education writing state test questions. Currently, she is working part-time in an accounting office, a Money Magazine panel member, and on the advisory board of College and Beyond.
College and Beyond is a company that provides help in obtaining aid and scholarships for students to attend the college of their choice. The advisory board helps to clarify goals and improve the business itself.
She would advise a student teacher regarding entering the profession not to go in trying to be a “pal”. It is always easier to let up than to crack down after a lenient start. If you are firm and consistent, most students will respect you. Above all, show them you CARE about them.
Judi and her husband have traveled on about 20 cruises; have visited the western states and the Grand Canyon, Alaska, and Hawaii; and have rental condos in Pigeon Forge, TN. There are many places still in the U.S.A. where she would like to visit. She is active in her church and volunteers for projects to help those less fortunate than she is. Since her three children and five grandchildren live within ten miles, she is fortunate that she is able to see them often, and to enjoy babysitting when she is needed.