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WA teacher develops ‘survival’ class for critical life skills like budgeting, job interviews

Puget Sound schools continue to grapple with the COVID crisis. (Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

Are your kids’ schools preparing them with the practical knowledge they will need to be successful in life, and is that the role for a school? Taylor Edwards is primarily a math teacher at Graham-Kapowsin High School, and created a “Senior Survival” class to teach kids the critical skills they’ll need as adults, with a 21st century twist.

“I actually took this class in high school that was called ‘Senior Survival.’ But when I started doing research behind it, I literally couldn’t find it anywhere — the high school that I went to didn’t have the class anymore. And I heard from students just all around Graham-Kapowsin High School that they really wish that there was a class like this,” Edwards told the Gee and Ursula Show.

The class aims to teach students practical skills revolving around budgeting, finance, and coping with adult stresses.

“I kind of broke it up into three categories. There’s a personal finance section where they learn about banking basics. They learn what’s the difference between checking and savings, … what does your credit score tell you? How does it rise, how does it fall? We go through a simulation of filing taxes, a lot of like little things like that, also making a budget, which I find the kids just love to do because a lot of them don’t know how,” she said.

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“Then we kind of go into this mini interview unit, which, when we were in person, the kids would actually go through a mock interview. And I had volunteers all around the pool and some volunteers from the community who would interview the seniors, especially seniors who haven’t gone through an interview before, and give them feedback like, ‘here’s how you could be a better interviewer.'”

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The last unit deals with mental wellness, and coping with numerous stresses as the students proceed through life’s many hurdles.

“So we talk about stress and anxiety management,” Edwards explained. “We talk about healthy versus unhealthy relationships, and some social skills. And this is what I implemented new this year: How social media is impacting your relationship and your life.”

Edwards says she is by no means an expert on the issue, but hopes to provide guidance and be honest with the students about her own experiences and what lies ahead.

“I try not to pretend that I’m a professional or the perfect adult, because I’m not. And I also share my own experience with the students, and I think that’s what makes them connect with me even more, just to show them nobody’s perfect,” she said. “Nobody is going to get it right the first time, that as long as we’re continuing to learn and research, that you could just be the best that you could be.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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