First United, THF teach finance basics to DHS AVID students

DISD
Denison High School AVID students who completed the “Foundations in Personal Finance for High School” program, sponsored by First United Bank and Texoma Health Foundation, gathered with teachers and sponsors at the conclusion of the 12-session project. “Our entire district is so very grateful for community partnerships like this one,” said Shonda Cannon, DISD Director of Instruction. “The information our students learned about financial stability will serve them well as they tackle life after high school.”

Denison educators are singing the praises of this year’s school-community partnership that linked First United Bank and the Texoma Health Foundation with Denison High School’s AVID students, calling the hugely successful “Foundations in Personal Finance” project a critical key to student success in college and in life.

When founders at Texoma Health Foundation originally established the “Get Above the Crowd” fund, the goal was to empower young women to “think BIG about their potential and their future,” said THF Board member Kris McKinney who participated in the project along with her husband, Mark. “Thanks to collaboration between First United Bank and DHS educators, a team of knowledgeable and skilled instructors came together to present Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance for High School to Denison High School’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students. The success was nothing short of amazing, particularly for the students who will soon be entering college and starting careers.”

According to Shonda Cannon, DISD Director of Instruction, the learning was as interesting as it was meaningful. “Jennifer Henegar from First United Bank conducted 12 interactive lessons with the students that kept them interested and involved via hands-on work and engaging discussions about real-life financial problems and situations. The students even prepared videos which they presented at the conclusion of the project.”

Denison High School AVID students (from left) Mackenzie Carter, Maggie Moody, McKenna Doty and Kianna Jones show off the gift cards they received for successfully completing the “Foundations in Personal Finance for High School” program that was co-sponsored by First United Bank and Texoma Health Foundation’s “Get Above the Crowd” fund.

“Our entire district is so very grateful for community partnerships like this one,” added Cannon. “The information our students learned about financial stability will serve them well as they tackle life after high school. I am so proud of AVID teacher Dana Waddle and her students for the manner in which they embraced this program. The students were extremely attentive and engaged.”

Waddle praised Henegar and others for making the project both informative and fun. “There were lots of interesting conversations that stemmed from our sessions with First United. I think it opened their eyes and minds to life after high school, and how finances can impact their futures. We are lucky to have a community that supports our school system and provides our students with opportunities to learn about basic budgeting, credit, how to buy a car, and student loans.”

Mark McKinney called the project one of the most worthwhile investments that THF and the Denison community could make in the lives of Denison young people. “Financial knowledge is a powerful tool for the future and much was learned by the students, as evidenced by some of the comments they made: ’I was surprised how long it takes to get out of debt,’ said one student. Others said: ‘People have debt 20 to 40 years after college’…’So many people are living debt free and they aren’t all rich’… and one of my favorites… ‘You can become a millionaire without being famous!’

McKinney said numerous students also reported having conversations with family members and other adults about the importance of the topics covered and lessons learned. “When we work together, we really can make a profound difference in the lives of future generations.”