In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week 2015, NGPF is celebrating the hard work and commitment to personal finance education exhibited by our nation’s teachers by featuring just a few members of our NGPF educator community. 

Featured Teacher: Barbara O’Neill,
barbaraExtension Specialist in Financial Resource Management & Distinguished Professor

School: Rutgers Cooperative Extension, New Brunswick, New Jersey

What is your favorite part of teaching personal finance? 

My favorite class activity is watching my students’ case study presentations at the end of the semester. First, these presentations are often funny. For example, the students sometimes role play the clients with “issues” and their financial advisors. Second, I can see how much students have learned about personal finance and how they integrate various topics that were taught separately, such as investments and taxes.

How would your students describe your personal finance class? 

I actually ask my students to answer this question by writing informal comments on index cards at the end of the semester.  One student (see examples above) called my class the “Best class at Rutgers, hands down.” That index card was a keeper. Most students indicate that the class material was useful, practical, and relevant to their lives and that my class gave them knowledge to become financially successful in the “real world.”

What’s been your greatest accomplishment as a personal finance teacher?

While some of my programs have received awards over the years and that was very nice, my greatest accomplishment as a financial educator is the lives of people that were changed for the better as a result of my teaching or writing. I know this from post-class evaluations and informal feedback. People saved money, reduced or avoided debt, and made smart financial decisions. Actually, the bulk of my work has been in adult financial education. In my 37 years with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, I have taught almost 30,000 adults. I’ve taught my undergraduate Personal Finance course for juniors and seniors at Rutgers University for 10 years and reached almost 200 students and helped make them “Money Smart.” I have also indirectly impacted thousands of New Jersey K-12 students by providing training for hundreds of teachers annually at our Financial Education Boot Camps that combine content and learning activities.

Barbara was one of our Financial Literacy Month Contest winners! Click here to learn more about her award winning original activity (an amazing collection of case studies) and winning resource.

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