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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, March 14, 2008

NOVI NEWS: Finance Lessons Result in Life-long Money Management

Novi High School teacher Mike Akouri gives a "thumbs-up" to a student's presentation during his afternoon business law class. In the fall Akouri will be teaching a finance class at Novi.
By Chris Jackett / STAFF WRITER
(NOVI, MI)...Money is often a loaded subject, especially in today's economy, but Mike Akouri is getting the word out to Novi High School students about the benefits of smart money management. Akouri, a business teacher at the high school, spent the fall semester showing students effective ways to manage their money. "The sidebar for the class is how well do they know their self. There's different levels of risk and their goal is to find out where they fit," Akouri said. "The three rules of the class are to pay yourself first, avoid debt and the miracle of compound interest." Currently teaching one international business and two business law classes, Akouri taught three finance classes last semester. He's excited about taking on a new round of finance classes this fall.
"It's my favorite class to teach. This is the one class where, anyone I've ever told what I teach, the instant response is, 'I wish I had that in high school,'" Akouri said. "One of the things I press on (students) is the one constant is they'll be thinking about money for the rest of their lives. "Habits are learned at an early age. Management skills are linked to the cell phone and cigarette industries. If they get 'em at an early age, they have a customer for life."
The same goes for financial responsibility, Akouri said. The federal curriculum may add investment to the reading, writing and arithmetic formula in the near future to enforce this life lesson. The finance classes taught 90 juniors and seniors about the importance of investments and starting at an early age, and brought in Tyler Ross of Telcom Credit Union to speak on the subject. The class, which has been at Novi High School since 2001 and will be available to sophomores this fall, has no prerequisites because the lessons are important for everyone.
"I learned how to manage money and about different types of stocks, different types of investments, like stocks, bonds and all that. I learned what dividends are and how to read charts," said 16-year-old junior Eric Esbrook. "We learned a lot about different retirement funds like 401k, traditional and untraditional IRAs, and mutual funds."
Educated
Students signed up for the finance class for several reasons, ranging from an interest in business and finance, to their parents suggesting it, to a simple need to manage their own accounts better. "I needed help with managing my money. I was interested a lot in the stock market," said Esbrook, who was inspired by the course and now seeks a career in the stock market. "I have my own separate account to buy stocks when I turn 18. A major component is time. The earlier you start, the more potential you have."
Senior Katie Martinez, 18, said her parents, who are both accountants, suggested she take the class and, although she isn't seeking a career in business, she's glad she did. "I learned how to manage my money and when to start a retirement account. I started a retirement account when I left the class," she said. "When I get older, I'll know how to manage my money. It's a good age (to learn about finances) because kids are just starting to get jobs."
Lauren McCloskey, a 17-year-old senior, said the class helped her in managing the money she earned in her first year with a job. "We learned how to fill out our tax return, which was good because this was the first year I had to do it because I had a job," she said. "I feel safer investing money. It was just really useful and he made it interesting. It wasn't just lecturing."
Martinez said Akouri used approaches including group discussions and examples students could relate to, like buying a vehicle, and the effects of leasing a new one or purchasing a used vehicle. Senior Jason Jankowski, 18, has taken most of the business classes offered at the high school and has his sights set on a marketing career through Western Michigan University. He said the finance class helped teach him things the other business courses hadn't.
"It really helped you learn how to deal with money. It kind of taught us, when you get a job, the different ways to save money. I opened up a savings account," Jankowski said. "Right now, seniors need to learn how to manage their money. A couple of the kids I've talked to take money more seriously. A lot of the activities showed, if you put a little bit away from each paycheck, it'll eventually add up."

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