Boosting Financial Literacy

$17,000 donation helps upgrade New Britain H.S. Academy of Finance

(The following article, featuring the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain’s support of New Britain High School’s Academy of Finance, appeared in The New Britain Herald on Thursday, February 16, 2017. The $17,000 grant to fund the Academy’s Financial Skills Lab was made as part of the Foundation’s community grants awards in May, 2016.)

By Skyler Frazer Staff Writer

NEW BRITAIN — The Academy of Finance at New Britain High School has been upgraded, courtesy of a $17,000 donation.

Teachers, administrators and students from NBHS joined the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain Thursday morning to thank the foundation for its substantial donation to the academy.

NBHS senior Tahjae Barrett speaks in the Financial Skills Lab.

NBHS senior Tahjae Barrett speaks in the Financial Skills Lab.

“This environment is preparing our students for a real workplace environment,” said Sondra Sanford, director of the NBHS Academy of Finance.

Some 216 students are currently enrolled in the Academy of Finance, which — as its name suggests — focuses on finance management and professions in the financial sector. Money from the donation went to revamping the Financial Skills Lab, which included buying new chairs, 32 laptops, whiteboards, a flat-screen financial ticker and other supplies.

Sanford said students in the academy can better collaborate and benefit from project-based learning thanks to the improvements to the lab. Superintendent Nancy Sarra also spoke briefly.

“We know the rate of these technology changes — it’s very quick — and in education we try and keep up but don’t always have the means to do so,” she said, emphasizing the importance of community support in helping with funds.

Marc Wesoly, a finance academy teacher, said his classes use the ticker — which displays world news and stocks — every day.

“It’s a great tool for me, as a teacher, to say, ‘Hey this is what’s going on. This is your world. You’re the future of it; see what’s going on right now,’” Wesoly said.

Wesoly said the new layout of the lab allows for much better collaboration between students. It also helps with classroom management, the teacher said.

NBHS senior Tahjae Barrett said she developed better public speaking skills through the academy’s classes. Barrett also interned at Achieve Financial Credit Union, creating Excel spreadsheets and organizing data.

“I never thought I could see myself in a professional setting, but going there definitely built my confidence,” Barrett said. “I was able to actually contribute something to them.”

Bryant Mercado, another NBHS senior, said he appreciated the post-high school preparation the Academy of Finance provided.

“It (the academy) focuses you on stuff that matters in the real world and stuff that matters after you graduate,” Mercado said. “Some classes just focus on getting you out the door and graduating.”

Jim Williamson, president of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, said donations like this are meant to help students graduate and better prepare them for higher education.

“We treat it as an investment, not as just a grant or one-time gift,” he said. “We’re looking at what we think it’s going to do for you and this community long term.”

Bob Trojanowski, chief financial officer for the foundation, said supporting education is a huge focus for the foundation.

“We want kids to see what they can become,” Trojanowski said.