In May, Mt. Hope High School business teacher Maureen Gauthier was recognized for her more than 20 years of work in the classroom with the inaugural 2023 Rhode Island General Treasurer’s Financial Literacy Educator Award. The designation honors educators who lead in their field by teaching personal finance, economics, business, and other related curriculum. Having taught at the school since 2002, Gauthier currently serves as teacher leader for the Business Department, which features a Career and Technical Education Business and Finance Pathway program, and she’s an advisor for Mt. Hope’s DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) chapter, a longstanding club preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, management, finance, travel, and tourism. Gauthier graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing and received her Master of Art in Education, with a concentration in secondary business education, from Johnson & Wales University. She also pulls her wide breadth of knowledge and insight from years working in retail.
ON THE FLOOR: When I was in college, I worked at The Limited. After graduation, I was hired to be an assistant manager, then started opening stores and being a store manager. I absolutely loved customer service and management. At Williams-Sonoma, I was the general manager and opened the store at Providence Place and became the Northeast corporate trainer. I realized I really loved teaching and training. I went back to school for my master’s in teaching. I love seeing people learn and grow.
THE POWER OF FICO: Starting with the class of 2024, Rhode Island high school students have to reach financial literacy. I’m glad we are having kids take [financial literacy classes] because as I say, their FICO score is the most important score they will have for the rest of their lives. They don’t realize it so I always bring that message into all of my classes.
TEXTBOOK REDO: We do lots of class presentations, interviewing skills, communication skills, dress for success, and project-based learning. Business Management students run the school store, Marketing Publishing does the yearbook, and in DECA, students team up and do a lot of projects together.
REAL WORLD: When students leave here, I want them to be able to market themselves, network, solve problems, think critically, and be able to work with others. It doesn’t matter what career they are going into; they need to communicate and be able to think on their feet. I emphasize deadlines – in the real world, you can’t go to your boss and say, “Sorry, yeah, didn’t get to that. I’ll bring it tomorrow.”
THE REWARD: I recently heard from a former student, a freshman just elected president of DECA at Bryant University, who earned top 10 in accounting at the Collegiate DECA International Competition. I was so proud. Another recently started a DECA chapter at her college. I often hear from students asking for their business plans or resumes they wrote in class or just to tell me what they are learning about. I absolutely love hearing from my students.
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