A wise saying is, “The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance.”
At Craig County High School (CCHS), teacher Wanda Reynolds lives by this quote for her students. “I want the best for them and try to make sure they have what they need to succeed in everyday life as well as their future workplace,” Reynolds said.
This year, which marked a sixth consecutive time, Craig County High School earned a spot in the W!SE (Working in Support of Education) top 100 schools in Virginia.
W!SE is a leading educational nonprofit based in New York City. Its mission is “to improve the lives of young people and at-risk adults through programs that develop financial literacy and readiness for college and the workforce.”
This award-winning program provides CCHS teachers with a curriculum and instructional resources to teach personal finance and measure students financial literacy through a W!SE Certification Test. Students who pass the test are designated Certified Financially Literate. This also enhances their college or workplace applications.
Two teachers, Reynolds and Rebecca Cox, were the wind under the sails of the students’ success at CCHS this year. Both teach 6th through 12th-grade students.
Reynolds teaches keyboarding, computer solutions, computer applications, accounting and economics and personal finance.
Reynolds has been teaching for over 38 years and explained that since its introduction, the program has become an integral tool to teach personal finance in thousands of classrooms across the United States.
Rebecca has been a Business Teacher at CCHS for three years. “It’s exciting, but being a new teacher, it was a lot on my shoulders after Ms. Reynolds told me that ‘we are always Blue Star School.’”
“The test is administered to students after a course on personal finance is given,” Reynolds shared. “This is not an easy test at all, but we work diligently to help our students learn these important lessons they will actually use in the future.”
The W!SE 2018 ranking is based on school achievement in the school year 2016-17. “We are proud to say that we had 100 percent pass rate with our students this year,” said both teachers.
The 100 Best W!SE High Schools national rankings recognize the top 100 performing high schools in W!SE’s national network. “It showcases excellence in financial education and motivates schools to ‘race to the top’ in personal finance instruction,” stated Anderson.
The initiatives of W!SE are built on five pillars – relevancy, real-world experiences, strong partnerships, volunteerism and evaluation. “No one automatically understands how to manage money, and, unfortunately, not all parents are able to help their child learn this skill at home,” Reynolds said before adding, “It’s life lessons. It’s not something that they will never use again, because it is personal finance.”
Reynolds explained that if 90 percent of the students pass, they are a Blue Star School and if 93 percent of the students pass, they are a Gold Star Teacher.
Because the test results are given the year after the graduating class, the students do not get to see their new banner. “However, our students know that they win, because they all passed,” Reynolds and Cox shared. “We let them have a party and a celebration for them.”
The banner, which will be presented to CCHS states, “Working in Support of Education; Financial Literacy Certification. The 100 Best W!SE HIGH SCHOOLS Teaching Personal Finance 2017.” The bottom line on the banner reads, “The 100 Best W!SE High Schools recognizes schools of excellence for student achievement on the Financial Literacy Certification examination and for exceptional leadership in preparing young people to make intelligent financial decisions.”
Reynolds noted that, “Some people think it’s an easy test, because we have such a good pass rate but that is not true. We always pre-test and initially, some of our students are in the 20th percentile. We help them go from the 20th percentile to 100 percent pass rate,” Reynolds said with a smile.
When Reynolds first administered the W!SE test in 2010, Craig County High was a Blue Star School. “We have been a Blue Star School every year since we started administering the test to our students,” said Reynolds.
Also, in previous years of the Top 100 W!SE schools, CCHS placed 28th place 2013, 49th in 2014, in 2015 took an awesome 9th place and in 2016 placed 63rd. The 2017 list has not yet been released.
Also, Reynolds has been a Gold Star Teacher since 2011, and this year both Reynolds and Cox will be recognized as Gold Star Teachers.
Teachers in Craig have repeatedly said, “Being a small school never has to limit your capabilities in successful teaching and for the students, successful learning. We believe that and will forever instill it into our students, so they will reach for the stars in whatever their desires may be.”