Seneca High School business teacher earns Next Gen Personal Finance fellowship

Brenda Martin-Lee was one of 24 teachers selected out of more than 200 applicants nationwide to attend the program.

Business teacher Brenda Martin-Lee is pictured in her classroom at Seneca High School on Sept. 11.

Seneca High School business teacher Brenda Martin-Lee is investing in her career and her students’ futures through her Next Gen Personal Finance fellowship.

Martin-Lee was one of 24 teachers selected out of more than 200 applicants nationwide to attend the Next Gen Personal Finance Summer Institute that took place June 24 through June 27.

Soon after the 2017–2018 school year came to a close, Martin-Lee packed her bags and was on a flight to Palo Alto, Calif. Throughout the program, she learned various training methods to enhance communication with her students to get them engaged in personal finance conversations as a means of bouncing thoughts off of one another.

Martin-Lee said she enjoys professional development programs such as Next Gen because she feels there are always improvements that can be made and skills that can be added into the classroom.

The Next Gen fellowship for the 2018–2019 school year will allow her to share her expertise in personal finance with those at Seneca, and will allow her to keep in touch with the other educators she spent time with at the Summer Institute.

“It’s always a passion for me teaching personal finance because I didn’t have this class offered when I was in high school, and my experience after that was chaotic in terms of managing finances, so I’m passionate about teaching students, young people and even adults about the importance of managing their finances,” Martin-Lee said. “I have a passion to continue to teach and continue to be a role model.”

Martin-Lee has been the only business teacher at the high school since her start at Seneca in 2006, and her goal is for students to rid their fear of personal finance by having them understand money and become more comfortable with it.

She said sometimes people are too reckless with their money and sometimes people are too restrictive with their money — it’s about finding a balance to most effectively manage money through saving, budgeting and investing.

Martin-Lee is dedicated to sharing ways to save for retirement, to monitor how much money is coming in and going out and the importance of the stock market.

While at the Summer Institute, Meir Statman, author of “Finance for Normal People: How Investors and Markets Behave” spoke on the importance of not making expensive purchases when possible. Instead of buying designer clothes, shoes or cars, that money could be invested as a way to prepare for the future. Martin-Lee hopes to relay that message to her students.

“I enjoy spending time with the students and interacting with them. Here at Seneca, you have the freedom to be creative and these professional development opportunities give me the chance to add to my classroom [lessons],” Martin-Lee said. “I believe all students deserve a financial education and I am excited to be a year-long Next Gen Personal Finance Fellow who will continue to advocate for financial literacy.”