Nicolet finance teacher honored by Gov. Walker

Nicolet High School teacher Michael Kania and his wife, Kristin, pose with Gov. Scott Walker after Kania received the Governor’s Financial Literacy Award in a ceremony at the Capitol on Jan. 28.

Nicolet High School teacher Michael Kania and his wife, Kristin, pose with Gov. Scott Walker after Kania received the Governor’s Financial Literacy Award in a ceremony at the Capitol on Jan. 28. Photo By Amandalynn Jones

Feb. 11, 2015

Glendale — Nicolet High School teacher Michael Kania teaches his students about financial literacy by involving them in hands-on situations in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom with field trips to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

In recognition of his efforts, Kania was one of 16 individuals and organizations presented with the 2014 Governor's Financial Literacy Award by Gov. Scott Walker in a ceremony at the Capitol on Jan. 28. The recipients, who were chosen from 38 nominations, were honored for their efforts in promoting financial literacy among Wisconsin citizens.

Kania teaches accounting and financial literacy, which covers practical situations like buying a first car, buying a house, managing debt and making investments in stocks or mutual funds.

"I always tell students that the most important course they should take is financial literacy, because it gets students comfortable with money management," Kania said. "We cover a complete range of financial topics, from things they need to know in high school and college and beyond."

Students in Kania's financial literacy course also get to visit Junior Achievement's Finance Park, where they are engaged in real-world business situations such as creating a budget and calculating payroll. Kania also initiated field trips to Chicago, where financial literacy students get to visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Exchange, where students can see commodities being traded in real time.

Kania also advises Nicolet's Millionaires Club, which teaches students about financial topics and then tests their knowledge through a challenge bowl competition. The Nicolet club won the state championship in 2012 and 2013, and received third place in 2014.

Kania's accounting class takes a field trip to Lambeau Field, where members of the finance department take them on a special tour that illustrates the economics of running the stadium and the Packers organization. The students also ask employees any questions they might have about the field of finance.

After receiving his award, Kania said Walker came over to him and talked about Nicolet's financial literacy course. Walker told Kania that he would like to see a personal finance class required in all Wisconsin high schools, according to Kania.

As a result of the programs initiated by Kania, Nicolet High School was awarded the 2013-14 Blue Star School award sponsored by WISE Financial. To earn this award, a school must have a 75 percent passing rate on the Financial Literacy Certification exam and, of the students who took the exam, achieve an average score of 80 percent or higher.

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