Preparation Begins in the Classroom
Every class offered at Granville High School leaves an impression on the students. Some hit closer to home than others, but each classroom offers lessons that can be applied to everyday life as a student progresses through his/her academic career.
In one particular classroom, however, the lesson is a preparation for life outside the classroom.
James Gilman worked at a Wall Street financial firm for 10 years before becoming a teacher in Granville, and he wanted to create a class that helped students prepare for the real world. That’s how he came up with the idea for his personal finance studies class, which is available to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. The class is offered as an elective for students, with full year and half year courses available. Granville also offers students the opportunity to join their Future Business Leaders of America club, and Mr. Gilman himself is the advisor to the Business and Marketing Honor Society.
“Every time a new student walks into my class, I want to make sure I’m preparing him or her as best I can for what happens once they’re not my students anymore,” said Gilman.
The class is designed to provide students with the opportunity to create their own path. Students are in control of their own areas of interest, with Mr. Gilman then designing his course work to help meet the specific goals his students have set for themselves. The class is also given prompts or goals to study, but how they choose to investigate that area of finance is largely up to them.
“My goal with each class is to get my students to buy in on their own education,” said Gilman. “There are countless ways for someone to build their own financial portfolio. I’m not here to tell students the best way to get rich, or the best way to do certain things. I want to show my students that their entrepreneurial mindset can be profitable if they work hard and understand the basics of how to make their financial goals a reality.”
On top of learning the basic ins and outs of financial planning, students also participate in a statewide competition known as the Stock Market Game. The program allows students to construct investment portfolios worth $100,000 and diversify it to the best of their abilities based on what they’re learning in class and overall market trends. At the end of the school year, winners are chosen from across the state.
“This game really helps my students understand market factors that go beyond liking a product or being familiar with a company. It challenges them to look deeper, and to think about what real life factors exist that could move a company’s stock price up or down significantly.”
The overall lesson Mr. Gilman wants his students to walk away with from his class is that they are in control of their own future.
“If you can start early, and if you can appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to get you where you want to be, then you can push your own goals to new limits,” said Gilman. “I feel it’s important that I’m leaning into areas that interest my students. If I can connect the classwork back to something they’re passionate about on their own time, I know I can make that lesson stick and they’ll carry it with them wherever they go next.”