Tag Archives: St. Clair High School

Matt Tetreau

Meet H&R Block Budget Challenge Scholarship Winner: Matt Tetreau

Hard work and long-term planning pay off when taking the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Don’t believe us? Just ask Matt Tetreau from St. Clair High School in Michigan who won a $20,000 scholarship. We spoke with him to learn more about how he was so successful!

Growing up, did you see a need for financial literacy and education among your classmates?

I really think that it’s valuable information, especially since next year many of us will have student loans. Many kids my age don’t really know too much about student loans or living on their own. That’s what inspired me to take Mrs. Volz’s class where we took the Budget Challenge.

Where did your previous financial education come from? Did you take any classes prior to Mrs. Volz’s?

No I didn’t. I didn’t ever really talk to my parents about money either. I’m not much of a spender. During the simulation, I learned almost everything I know though through the class or on my own.

Do you think that the simulation taught you the real world money skills that you need to be successful?

Absolutely. I feel like I can budget on my own now, whereas before I don’t know if I would have been able to manage.

What do you think was the recipe to your success that helped you win the scholarship?

I checked the Budget Challenge every day and made sure that my budget was balanced. I tried a bunch of different strategies and tried to find the strategy that would save me the most money on my budget.

How often did you tweak your budget throughout the simulation?

In the beginning, I planned it all out by how I thought it’d work out — but that didn’t work because unexpected things came up in the Budget Challenge where I had to make refinements. We had one unexpected event to deal with, and our credit card expenses were pretty unpredictable at times. We didn’t know how much we’d get charged for the event, so we had to account for that as well.

Did you work together with your classmates through the simulation?

I actually did work with some. It was really valuable working together and bouncing ideas off each other. Some of my classmates proposed strategies that I didn’t initially think of — and I came up with ways to play that helped others. I think that sharing of ideas among a few of my classmates was part of my success.

What did your parents think when you told them you were taking the H&R Block Budget Challenge?

I told them about the simulation, and they were pretty into it as well. They were asking me what was going on and how I was doing.

How has winning this scholarship changed your post-graduation plans?

I always planned on going to college, but I didn’t plan how I would pay for it. So the scholarship definitely helps.

Where do you plan on going to college and using your scholarship?

I plan on going to Michigan or Grand Valley State and studying computer science. I want to probably be a computer programmer or similar type of job.

Would you recommend this simulation to other students? Why?

Going into this, I didn’t know much at all about budgeting. I learned so much information that will help me throughout my life. I honestly think that every high school student should participate in something like that or at least take a class related to it.

Learning financial literacy is fun with the H&R Block Budget Challenge. To find out more about how your teenagers or students can learn real-world money management skills without the real-world consequences, encourage teachers to register here for the next H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation.

(Photo provided by Amanda Volz)

Meet H&R Block Budget Challenge Classroom Grant Winner: Ms. Amanda Volz

St. Clair High School teacher Amanda Volz knows a thing or two about what it takes to lead a class of money management masters. Not only did her class last year include H&R Block Budget Challenge grand prize winner Sean Lawrence, six of her students this year won scholarships, along with a $5,000 classroom grant. We caught up with her to find out how she keeps her students motivated in the program and why she’d recommend it to others.

You’ve had two straight years with high-performing students involved in the program. What’s your secret?

I’m fortunate enough to teach the inclusive personal finance class. My financial management class is year-long and we cover all the personal finance topics, so we talk about budgeting, credit, how to deal with mortgages, etc. So, this is content that I purposely tie to the simulation. My students are graded on the quizzes they take, and their participation is recorded so that’s definitely a positive for me that I’m teaching those exact concepts in my class.

How did you include the simulation in your curriculum?

This year I taught it as more of project-based learning format. Last year I did it as more of a culminating project using the concepts I teach. The Budget Challenge was a great support to the curriculum I already teach, and students were learning as they improved. My students were constantly asking questions as they progressed.

What were your students’ reactions when you told them they’d be participating in the program?

They were very into it and started making their budgets and talking to their parents. They knew at the beginning they had to make some really good decisions to hopefully win the scholarship. I know that 100 percent of my class found value in the simulation even though some of them may not have been into it as much as the other students in the Budget Challenge.

How did you motivate your students to participate in the simulation?

All of my kids that won scholarships this year were very engaged, so they didn’t get lazy at any point and used the budgeting tools that were provided by the Budget Challenge. They were strategic and worked together, bouncing ideas off each other, and reminding each other of certain things. I think having a grand-prize winner last year was a huge motivator for my classes this year to see that winning is a possibility for them. One of the ways I introduced the simulation this year was by showing footage of last year and how Sean Lawrence went on to win and I think that was really effective.

Did you get any feedback from your students’ parents?

I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from parents about how their son or daughter was really talking about these concepts at home with them. I think the Budget Challenge was increasing a lot of dialogue at home and a lot of good comments from parents about making personal finance fun. This program is game-based so it makes the process fun.

What did you find most rewarding when including the H&R Block Budget Challenge in your teaching?
I really like that students are taking exactly what they’re learning in my class and the simulation and applying it to their daily lives. I think that’s a huge reward. There’s never any question of “When am I ever going to use this?”

What’s your stance on financial courses in high schools? Do you think they should be required?

Most definitely. I think finance is a major part of everyone’s lives. These are household skills that help our economy. One of the most rewarding parts of teaching this is how kids see the value in all this information that they’re learning.

Would you recommend this program to other teachers?

I definitely recommend the program. I have not found another program that better simulates the money management concept. I think it’s great that everything happens in real time, too. It’s very hands-on and relevant. The game-based aspect of it makes it fun for the students and the scholarship money — that’s a life-changing amount of money for someone to win. It’s also available at no cost to teachers.

Learning financial literacy is fun with the H&R Block Budget Challenge. To find out more about how your teenagers or students can learn real-world money management skills without the real-world consequences, encourage teachers to register here for the next H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation.

(Photo provided by Noah Westrick)

Meet H&R Block Budget Challenge Scholarship Winner: Noah Westrick

St. Clair (Mich.) High School senior Noah Westrick is a personal finance whiz and now has a $20,000 scholarship to show for it through his participation in the H&R Block Budget Challenge! We spoke with him to learn more about what financial skills have made him real-world ready and how the scholarship changed his life.

Would you say your St. Clair classmates are financially savvy?

In many states, financial classes aren’t required, and I think they absolutely should be. I’ve learned so much, and I’m not even halfway through the year. I’d like to see education like this happen around the world. There are no negatives to it.

Did you have any prior financial education before taking the H&R Block Budget Challenge?

I had nothing, pretty much. All I knew was anything that my family told me and anything I found out on my own. I went into this class where we took the H&R Block Budget Challenge to learn as much as I could about finances,and so far that’s helped me. 

When you were introduced to the H&R Block Budget Challenge, how interested were you in participating?

To be honest, at the beginning, I was ready to do it and thought it’d be a great way to learn. But I wasn’t as excited as I was halfway through when I saw my rank rose from 965 to 57 in one day. Then I started to really enjoy the simulation. Every day I’d wake up, and the first thing I’d do is check and see how I was doing. Near the end, it would be multiple times a day I’d log in to see if anything happened.

Did you talk to your family about what you learned throughout the simulation?

I remember at the beginning when I did the vendor selection I didn’t know what a deductible was, and I had to ask my dad about that.

How did you and your classmates encourage each other to participate?

Two of my best friends, who also won scholarships, all three of us talked all the time about the Budget Challenge and tried to make a strategy together. We did things like that throughout the entire simulation.

Did you enjoy participating in the H&R Block Budget Challenge?

Yes! The H&R Block Budget Challenge taught me a lot, like how to use credit cards properly, what a 401K was, and how to write a check.

Do you think the H&R Block Budget Challenge has helped you become real-world ready?

Yes, I do. I feel like this has improved my real-world skills so much. I feel like this has taken years of hardship of me. I’ve learned so much about finances through the simulation. I loved it.

Where will you be continuing your education after high school graduation?

For my first two years I’m going to go to St. Clair Community College, then I’m going to transfer to probably Western Michigan University, and that’s when I’ll use my $20,000 scholarship.

Is it cool to be financially savvy as a teen?

I think yes, especially in St. Clair, because the winners have been congratulated by everyone. Now everyone wants to take the H&R Block Budget Challenge and win $20,000 too.

Learning financial literacy is fun with the H&R Block Budget Challenge. To find out more about how your teenagers or students can learn real-world money management skills without the real-world consequences, encourage your teachers to register here for the next H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation.