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New Hope-Solebury Middle School launches financial literacy course; student earns national scholarship


New Hope-Solebury Middle School has introduced a groundbreaking financial literacy course as part of its curriculum for eighth grade students. This initiative stems from the district’s mission to prepare future-ready students with essential life skills and to meet the increasing demand for financial education in schools.

The impetus for developing a financial literacy offering at the middle school level is rooted in creating a seamless progression for students’ understanding of financial concepts. The program lays a strong foundation, ensuring that students can confidently navigate basic financial discussions and recognize entrepreneurial opportunities. Spearheading this effort is New Hope-Solebury faculty member and course instructor, Dr. Brian Rutledge, and Middle School Principal Dr. Erik Pedersen. Rutledge, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a graduate degree in risk management and insurance from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, brings a wealth of knowledge to the classroom, ensuring that students grasp complex financial concepts with practical applications.

“We are proud to have launched this course in anticipation of the state mandate for financial literacy at the high school level starting in 2026,” Rutledge said. “By offering this course in middle school, our students will have a greater appreciation and grasp of the content when it is expanded in high school.”

The course uses MassMutual’s program EverFi, a curriculum engaging students with interactive experiences and using real-world scenarios to cover a range of topics, such as banking and payment options, credit scores, insurance, mortgages, and entrepreneurship. The students are engaged in classroom discussions about the benefits and risks associated with financial decisions and are enhancing their understanding of the impacts of those choices.

“It has been awesome to see kids’ eyes opened as they realize what an amortization schedule looks like. We finish the course with a module on entrepreneurship,” Rutledge said. Leveraging EverFi’s system, the program is tailored to address the unique needs and interests of New Hope-Solebury’s student body, integrating local economic factors and community-specific financial opportunities into the curriculum.

The success of the new course has already been showcased in a national recognition awarded to a student of the program, eighth grader Jill Leyman. Leyman was among only 1,300 students in the nation selected as a winner of the MassMutual Foundation’s annual essay contest and given a $2,000 scholarship. Leyman was recognized for her award during a recent meeting of the New Hope-Solebury Board of School Directors. The essay asked students to reflect on the concepts they learned from the EverFi program.

“We are fortunate to have someone like Dr. Rutledge leading this instruction,” Pedersen said. “His deep knowledge of the course material and our high school programming uniquely positions him to prepare our middle school students for the expectations awaiting them.”

This financial literacy instruction supports the New Hope-Solebury School District’s commitment to heightened student engagement in learning, providing relevant and applicable learning experiences, equipping students for future success, and providing equitable access to critical life skills like financial literacy.

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