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How One Teacher Blends Entrepreneurship Into Her Classes

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Give a teen a smoothie and you might satisfy their thirst for an hour. But teach a teen to blend, market and sell smoothies in the high school marketplace and you might set them up for life.

Running a small business for profit is just one of the money principles Toni H. has taught her students over the past 25 years. An accounting and business teacher at Blacksburg High School in Virginia, Toni says she wants to help students see the real-world applications of smart personal finance.

“I have heard time and time again students complain that what they learn in school just isn’t applicable to the real world,” Toni says. “As an educator, I believe that teaching basic foundations as well as application is essential.”

Toni herself has no lack of practical financial know-how. As a longtime listener to The Dave Ramsey Show, she wanted to find a way to share with her students the same smart money habits she believed in.

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She’s been teaching from Dave’s Foundations in Personal Finance high school curriculum since 2008. And it was Toni’s dedication to teaching teens about money that opened up a creative way to buy the curriculum for her school.

“With the financial assistance of the school librarian, we secured funds to purchase Foundations. Today I use portions of it in all of my classes,” she says.

Toni’s accounting students learn all the basics and the real-world applications of saving and investing, as well as how and why to avoid debt. In her class on business law, Toni thinks the topics of insurance and real estate are most helpful for the teens she teaches.

Real Good Smoothies

But maybe her most impressive and practical application of smart money principles is a student-run business model known affectionately as Real Good Smoothies. Every year, students in Toni’s business management course have the opportunity to take on a variety of roles while planning, staffing and operating a smoothie business inside the school’s cafeteria.

“I supplement the business management course with most of the Foundations material,” Toni says.

“As in any business, Real Good Smoothies has evolved, grown, and adjusted to market demands and regulations. It is a wonderful learning experience where students learn the value of planning, budgeting and management.”

Through a creative arrangement with the school’s cafeteria, Toni’s students have access to all necessary cleaning equipment, storage and tables to sell smoothies to their classmates during lunch hours. From that helpful starting point, the entire business plan is in the hands of the teens.

With each new business management class, Toni’s students take on Real Good Smoothies job titles like CEO, vice president of HR, marketer, plant operator and, of course, kitchen staff. Both in the classroom and at the smoothie stand, students learn the elements of running a business. From the marketing and buying fruit all the way down to pricing for profit.

Along the way, they learn what it really looks and feels like to operate a business. And depending on the students’ actual labor, profit-and-loss statements and customer service, the payoff can be just as real as the work.

“They also learn the value of execution with a monetary reward at the end of the project in the form of wages and profit sharing,” Toni says. “These are the same cornerstone concepts Dave teaches. As he says ‘If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.’”

Above all, Toni hopes she has shown students the power of smart personal finance and changed their lives for the better.

“If you were to ask my students how my teaching, classroom material choices [like Foundations in Personal Finance], and business classes have impacted them, I hope they would answer: ‘I worked hard, I learned a lot, I can use what I learned after high school, and it changed how I look at money.”

It’s because of dedicated educators across the country like Toni that more than 3 million students have learned Dave Ramsey’s life-changing principles through Foundations in Personal Finance: High School Edition. This month, we’re celebrating teachers in a really special way!

Dave Ramsey’s Teacher Appreciation Giveaway, sponsored by Churchill Mortgage, runs throughout the month of April. Teachers can enter for a chance to win a $10,000 teachers’ lounge makeover, one of three $1,000 gift cards, a school assembly with Ramsey Personality Anthony ONeal or even a $5,000 all-inclusive vacation! Teachers can enter at daveramsey.com/teacher, so share this Giveaway with the teachers in your life today. The Giveaway ends April 30.

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