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The ABCs of finance: How this Ontario teacher prepares her students for the real world

When you were in high school, did you learn about leasing a car, the pitfalls of payday loans, or the best way to invest your money?

Amy Smith certainly didn’t, and that’s why now, as a math teacher at College Avenue High School in Woodstock, Ontario, she’s invited various professionals with financial savvy – including a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, a financial advisor and a car sales representative — to talk to his students.

“I realized I hadn’t learned that,” Smith said. “I don’t want my students to have this mindset of, ‘Oh, I’m signing a paper, but I really don’t understand why I’m signing.'”

Smith taught his students about compound interest, investing, and credit scores, with help from community experts. She focuses on buying and renting cars with her 9th graders.

“I know when I was younger I had no idea about renting and owning a car,” Smith said. “I had questions like, ‘Why would I want bi-weekly payments instead of monthly payments?'”

Among other things, the students learned about mortgages, investments and tenants’ rights. (Submitted by Amy Smith)

Next week, a car sales rep will be spending time with her students to teach them the ins and outs of car ownership.

Smith, who started teaching in 2012 and is finishing her freshman year in high school, has also worked with her students researching tenants’ rights, and she asked them to interview tenants and landlords about their experiences.

Never too early to save

Grade 12 students at Smith learned about renting versus owning. Despite the boom in the housing market, she believes her students can still find a place in the market after graduation, as long as they start saving now.

“It takes a lot of time and budget,” she said.

Trish Catton, a real estate agent from London, Ont., spoke to Smith’s Grade 12 class this week.

Trish Catton, a real estate agent based in London, Ont., spoke to Grade 12 students at Smith about the ins and outs of buying a home. (Lindsey Piette/Angelic Images Photography)

“I just brought it back to basics,” she said, noting that they talked about down payments, inflation and equity, and planned to buy a house through various scenarios.

“There was a kid, he was so cute, he wants to be an investor,” Catton said. “He wants to own his first house at 23 and then buy one a year.” Catton said she gave the student a copy of The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller.

“Anything we can do for our kids beyond the program is so beneficial and awesome,” she said.

“They’re great into it,” Smith said. who is proud that her students now understand the difference between good and bad credit.

“They know who can get a mortgage and who can’t,” she said.

“I’m super excited to see where these kids go and…if it makes them even more financially stable than the rest.”