Mount St. Joseph High
Baltimore County Private School
To Julius Prezelski, a personal finance teacher at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore County, the reason for teaching personal finance is simple: when students see how the lessons can impact their lives, they make connections and are immediately interested.
“When students see the financial benefit of understanding these concepts, they’re hooked,” he explains. “Who doesn’t want to have the financial understanding necessary to become wealthy? Personal Finance is a very popular class - and by the way, it should be mandatory statewide.”
By focusing on real-world financial considerations, including current events and leveraging MCEE resources, Mr. Prezelski has developed a curriculum that creates high demand for his classes.
That demand is the result of Mr. Prezelski’s creativity and perseverance - and his use of the many resources available from MCEE. Early in his 26-year tenure, he persuaded school leadership to let him introduce a personal finance elective course. Eventually, more than half of the schools’ students signed up! They loved the discussions, asked thoughtful questions, and remained interested in the course topics well-after the classes were over.
To continuously enhance the course, Mr. Prezelski partners with MCEE to deliver its lesson plans, games, and resources. “MCEE is one fantastic resource for classroom activities and professional development to make sure I maintain expertise on the latest topics, from crypto and bonds to inflation and short selling.”
Mr. Prezelski mentors two teams each year in MCEE’s Personal Finance Challenge. “Last year, MCEE had teams create a simulated family financial plan to present. This sort of comprehensive planning and presenting experience was incredibly meaningful for students.” He also coordinates an investment club with nearly 60 active participants who meet in the mornings before school. It has become one of Mount St. Joe’s largest clubs.
In the last year, has completed more than 100 hours of professional development on a variety of personal finance topics - from MCEE and others. He regularly attends conferences, networks with fellow teachers. Mr. Prezelski’s passion for financial literacy the subject is clear - and it transfers to his students. He passes on his knowledge and what he gains from professional development conferences and workshops - including those provided by MCEE - to students, who are listening, and spreading the word.
“Parents tell me all the time how their students rave about the course over dinner. It’s starting, or continuing, the conversation at home.” said Prezelski.
Now, says Mr. Prezelski, it’s important to implement a financial education requirement across the state. “I tell my students: ‘what you’re learning here will impact you at some point in time. Whether you come from wealth or not, these are concepts you need to understand.’ A mandate would make that happen.”