‘Life Skills’: Madison County ‘Teacher of the Year’ Helps Students Understand Personal Finance | News

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Jaime Hinsley says her first thought as a business teacher is to help her students become self-reliant when it comes to personal finance.

“By learning the basics of personal finance at a young age, I feel that students take pride in their understanding (and) strive for financial success,” she said.

She teaches what she calls “life skills” to middle school students in grades six through eight. One unit she teaches eighth graders is a bank account/checking unit which is taught over nine weeks.

“(It’s) the unit that alumni have to tell me about the most,” Hinsley said.

The unit includes the basics of personal finance, such as bank account terminology, managing a checking account, debits and credits, ‘paydays’, and paying fixed and variable expenses. She provides all students with a folder that includes sample checks and deposit slips, a checkbook register, and study notes. As they progress through the course, Hinsley says they get excited on “payday” and disappointed when their account balance is low. She said they are often disappointed on days when the weather does not allow them to work on their bank accounts.

“For the majority of my eighth graders, this is their first interaction with a bank account,” she said.

And she said they talk about it and love it the most because it’s “real,” they can see how it will apply to their daily lives as they get older.

“This unit builds student-to-student, student-to-teacher, and student-to-parent engagement,” she said. “Many students start asking their parents about how they manage their bank accounts and even ask their parents to write checks for them. The engagement continues when they’re 16+ and they come back to me and say, “Thank you Mrs. Hinsley for making this a priority in your class.” I am the only one of my friends who can manage and understand my bank account. This is why I teach every day. I want to teach, build and encourage my students to become productive and independent people.

Hinsley says she thinks students may have trouble understanding why they’re learning a certain curriculum.

“In my classes, I strive to make connections between school and work in all lessons,” she noted. “A student who may not be excelling in their math class can make connections to the real-world lessons I teach.”

Hinsley believes that introducing business and personal finance skills and concepts at a young age allows students to build confidence and soft skills that they will use throughout their lives.

“Students who start their resumes in eighth grade and save them in Google Drive have it to build on as they senior through high school and beyond,” she pointed out.

Hinsley graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in business education in 2001 and completed her master’s degree in 2007 from Walden University with a degree in technology integration. Her first teaching job was at Winder-Barrow Middle School where she taught business classes for two years.

In 2003, she returned to her Madison County roots, taking the business studies program at MCMS.

“The computer lab was like stepping back in time with 34 standalone computers, no printers and no internet service,” she recalls.

Hinsley worked to quickly launch a program that would teach her students real-world skills and instill a sense of professionalism, making it clear that she wanted to be more than a “typing teacher.”

In addition to teaching, Hinsley has served on various committees, assisting with the hiring process for co-workers, managers and assistant superintendents, data teams, team leader, and the Canvas initiative, a program put implemented to help teachers connect with students virtually during the Covid pandemic when schools across the country were closed.

Hinsley was born in New York and her family found their way to little Carlton in 1987.

“They (her parents) dreamed of having a farm, and since my father was also a restaurateur, we opened Carmine’s Pizza Time in 1990,” she said. “I started fourth grade at Comer Elementary, then Madison County Middle School, then graduated from MCHS in 1996.”

After college, she married her high school sweetheart, Lee Hinsley in June 2001. “We had our first baby boy, Mattox Lee, in December 2003,” she said. “My daughter, Isabelle, was born in July 2006. Our two children attended Comer Elementary, MCMS, and now MCHS. We have lived in Hull since 2009.”

Hinsley says being named the 2021-22 TOTY at Madison County Middle School has been such a blessing.

“There’s something special about having your colleagues choose you to represent their school as Teacher of the Year,” Hinsley said. “To say I was shocked to be named District Teacher of the Year is an understatement. It was completely humiliating! I love this county and this school district and plan to retire at MCMS.

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