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SHS Math Class Teaches Practical Skills for Life

Stacy Aguilar makes a list of payments during classtime.Getting a first loan or navigating health insurance can often be confusing for young adults, but fortunately, Sherman ISD offers students an elective course to help them manage their money after high school.

“In Financial Math, we learn and discuss everything that affects a person financially in their adult life, and some of my students have been handling some of this already,” said Carlia Freeman, one of the instructors. “We focus on real-world applications that everyone deals with, no matter how much money they have.”

Students learn how to do their income tax returns and how important it is to make more than the minimum payment on a credit card balance each month. The course also explains how health insurance deductibles and co-pays work, and it discusses how to apply for a loan and how interest is calculated.

“Everything we do in here is connected to the real world,” Freeman said. “The math we learn is used in day-to-day life. I haven’t ever had a student ask me, ‘When am I going to use this?’”

Students also receive a math credit upon course completion, and senior Miguel Hernandez is glad to be learning these practical, everyday skills in high school.

“Social media likes to say, ‘We should have learned this at school,’ but I’m learning about those things here in this class,” he said. “Ms. Freeman is a great teacher and emphasizes these skills in order to function better in the real world.”

The financial math course also engages students with a personal finance simulation, which gives students a college degree, student loan, job and bills, and students can be thrown curveballs in the form of unexpected expenses or bonuses. This innovative program aligns with the lessons Freeman teaches.

“Students log in each week to review their budget and pay their bills,” Freeman said. “When we cover apartment rents, car payments, or insurance, they reevaluate their budget and factor those costs in.”

A good understanding of finance is applicable to any career as well.

“We talk about many options, from military to vocation to college, and discuss the pros and cons to each,” Freeman said. “This course is honestly useful for anybody who plans to be productive in their life and career.”

Hernandez is already finding applications in his daily life.

“Because it’s tax season, Ms. Freeman has taught us how to get the right documents and how to file,” Hernandez said. “And at my old job, I’ve been helping people who used to work there get their W-2 and do their taxes.”