Trinity High School launches financial literacy and leadership program with support from Choice Bank

New curriculum aims to better prepare students for monetary decisions as adults, courtesy of $250,000 donation.

Nicole Berger
Nicole Berger helps Junior and Senior students with their business simulations in her financial literacy class at Trinity High School on Jan. 25.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — Trinity High School students will soon be able to participate in a new financial literacy and leadership program aimed at better preparing them for monetary decisions as adults. Trinity Catholic Schools President Marya Skaare said leaders at the school are in the beginning stages of organizing the curriculum.

“The program will officially launch in the fall,” Skaare said. “Choice Bank has dedicated $250,000 toward us rolling this program out and supporting the program needs.”

She said the curriculum is being built around current core classes such as business and accounting. Choice Bank Dickinson Location President Zach Keller said Choice is bringing previous experience with a similar educational partnership in North Dakota.

“We're working directly with Trinity on developing the curriculum and finding out where we can come in and be a part of the courses,” Keller said. “In certain courses we will actually have professionals from Choice in Dickinson and potentially Choice employees from outside Dickinson come in and help educate the students, teach some of the lessons, give some firsthand experience on some of the things that we use day to day here at Choice Bank, and in other experiences. So we'll be partners both on the development side and then actively participating in the courses as well.”

Nicole Berger, who currently teaches everything from computers to financial literacy at Trinity, will be a major part of the program, Skaare said.


“The goal for the program is for the students to be able to understand and learn about finances so that they are ready, when they leave our school, to be able to start making some of those adult decisions and just have that expertise and maybe to be able to have that relationship with a bank established,” Berger said. “So if there's any needs that they have in the future, they have the knowledge of someone too that they're able to be in contact with.”

Skaare said the idea for the program was born from discussions about how to prepare students for today’s world and nurture leadership in vocation.

Marya image.jpg
Trinity Catholic Schools President Marya Skaare is helping to organize a new financial literacy and leadership program for high schoolers.
Contributed / Marya Skaare

“Something we hear all the time in terms of readiness for people in the workforce and what, across industry, people are looking for is leadership,” Skaare said. “And then not just finding a person to occupy a space in your company or your business, but to find someone who has, you know, a well rounded skill set that includes leadership and management and an understanding of problem solving. And so then that conversation just sort of springboarded into: what are we doing to prepare our students? We feel like there are a number of ways that we prepare students for life differently here than other educational institutions because we are a non-public school. And so of course faith is a tremendous part of the formation of young people that come out of Trinity. And you'll know just from looking at our mission statement, you know we're here to educate the whole student – mind, body and soul – and so we take that very seriously.”

She said providing this skill set will benefit students when they are on their own as adults and prepare them to lead with virtue.

“When we're thinking mind, we said okay, what are we doing and how are we educating them in key areas that are going to help them not just going from, you know, high school into a job necessarily, but going into whatever is next for them after they walk across the stage and get that diploma,” Skaare said. “Our business curriculum is where we thought it would best fit to include virtuous leadership and servant leadership. And then at the same time, another element of what people continue to say that they see lacking in the world is an understanding of basic finance and accounting concepts. So we thought, okay, what can we do for enhancement to our financial literacy education? And so as we're thinking about what are some opportunities for us in leadership, how can we continue to make our programming more robust on the business education side?”

With guidance from other educational institutions, Choice Bank, and knowledgeable teachers, Skaare said the school is well on its way to implementing the new program.

“I'm just beyond excited because this is such a passion of mine,” Berger said. “And the students are just really receptive and engaged in learning about financial literacy because I think they see the value in being able to learn about it so that they can make some of those decisions when they start college or even when they're starting on a different career path and being able to house that knowledge in that background. So it's a very, very exciting time for our school, and for my classroom as well.”

Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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