Hamilton Christian

Like other schools in Southwest Louisiana, Hamilton Christian Academy, above, was forced to navigate an unexpected school closure this spring. But algebra teacher Brad Moore was determined to not let the pandemic cancel one of his biggest class projects of the year.

Hamilton Christian School navigated unexpected school closures like most schools to the best of its ability. But Brad Moore, algebra teacher, was determined to not let the unexpected campus closure cancel one of his biggest class projects of the year.

The math class comprised of eighth- and ninth-grade students was tasked prior to the closure with the real-world application math assignment of working with adult clients on home re-financing. With rates at a historic low, Moore said the opportunity was a prime chance to teach students practical skills while polishing their math abilities, as well.

"It was fairly easy and it was more applied math, really," Moore said. "I think finances is just about the easiest way to connect with math."

Moore researched similar projects online and connected with another online teacher who gave him advice on how to get started. "The biggest initial hurdle was just finding clients who would work with us. But she said, ‘Just start talking to people.' I was like, ‘OK, I can do that. I can talk to people.'"

He was able to recruit eight "clients" for the students who then began working in cyberspace using the teleconferencing software Google Meet.

"At first I was really a little unsure. I wasn't sure how it was going to go," Addica Muth, a ninth-grader, said.

"My thought was that it was going to be kind of hard because I've never done something like this," Malachi Evans, a 10th-grade student, said. "I thought, ‘If I mess up. I'm going to have to start all over.' But as soon as I got the hang of it I just liked it."

Muth and Evans worked as partners in the project and were first tasked with collecting essential data from their client including their monthly mortgage payment and interest rate. Using a mortgage calculator, they put together a spreadsheet of data to present to the client via Google Meet.

The end goal was not to sell the client on a re-finance, Moore said. Rather, "We wanted to just show them the possibility of a re-finance."

Muth and Evans rehearsed their presentation ahead of time and received high marks from their client in his final survey.

"They communicated effectively and took action quickly. Big plus for me personally…They were timely, respectful and professional," the client responded.

In addition to a full walkthrough of their estimated savings from re-financing, the students also provided clients with current interest rates and contact information for local financial institutions should they be interested in a real re-finance. Final surveys also indicated that 100 percent of clients would participate in the project again.

Moore said he would definitely consider revisiting the project in the future as it was beneficial for clients and provided students a unique opportunity for self-reflection that goes beyond the usual letter grade. In their personal surveys, students indicated they wished they had communicated more clearly, expressed pride in overcoming shyness and even suggested similar projects for the future.

"You don't always get that kind of realization from students and I think that's big," he said.

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