Teaching Financial Literacy & The “Million Bazillion” Tour Comes to LMSV


Students are interested in money: how it works, why things cost what they do, and how they can make good decisions about money. For Jaime Favorite and her colleague Khoa Van Cotthem, that includes teaching popular Financial Literacy classes at La Mesa Arts Academy. Parkway Academy offers a similar class.

“[Our students are] so well prepared for their future,” says Favorite. “They have so much advanced knowledge that I never had.” Students begin the course learning about basic consumer terms and skills like saving and budgeting. They then move on to more advanced concepts lie understanding credit scores, and that is where the engagement ramps up.

Says Favorite, “I would say that this is the stuff they have the most questions on and that surprised them the most. And these seventh and eighth graders could teach any adult about what their credit score is, what’s a good credit score, what’s mediocre, what affects your credit score.

“And if you do have a poor credit score they can now teach you what’s going to be harder for you: it’s going to be harder for you to get a car loan, it’s going to be harder for you to rent your first apartment, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a good rate on a mortgage. They know all of that stuff now.”

The classes also engage with San Diego Junior Achievement for an interactive time away from the classroom in their Finance Park facility. Finance Park is, explains, Favorite, “like the older brother of Biz Town, which our elementary ESS students visit.”


Finance Park addresses “everything we do through the year: budgeting, saving, credit, insurance. We take all of our kids to the facility and they do a whole simulation on budgeting, where they have to investigate different areas to budget. They need house insurance, they need groceries, they need a budget for clothing, need to pay their mortgage, and ‘here’s your utilities that you have to budget for’.

“Once they do all that they have to calculate it all and they find out, ‘Oh, I’ve overspent in this category, because I still need to go buy this service or this utility or this kind of insurance.’ And so then they have to adjust things. So that’s a big eye-opener. It is a big dose of reality that they’re exposed to you, which is good.”

When the Million Bazillion tour came to LMAAC, students were ready to participate and showcase their financial literacy in a high-energy, interactive setting that made all of their learning come alive.

There is a movement at work to make financial literacy a required course for all students by 2030. If Favorite’s students are any example, the future of student financial understanding is bright.

Financial Literacy & “Million Bazillion” on the LMSV Heart Podcast

Jaime Favorite 1

The latest episode of the LMSV Heart Podcast is a combination episode that revolves around financial literacy and the recent “Million Bazillion Live: Who Wants To Be A Bazillionaire?” tour date that stopped at La Mesa Arts Academy (LMAAC).

First, we talked with Jaime Favorite, one of the financial literacy teachers at LMAAC who was part of bringing the tour to the district. She explains some of the origins of the class, what students study, and just how engaged students are when it comes to learning about and understanding money.

Then we had the special opportunity to speak with Bridget Bodnar, Creator and Co-Host of the Million Bazillion podcast for NPR’s Marketplace. Bridget was generous enough to share her time to talk about the podcast, the tour, and some great ways families can engage children in talking about and de-mystifying money.

It’s a fascinating conversation about a topic that is gaining momentum, as more and more students (and families) want to learn about and be better prepared to handle financial matters. Take a listen and explore past episodes to dig deeper into the people, programs, and culture that make La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools so special.

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