Ceja Martinez: Learning from the past to teach Peoria’s children of today

Monica Ceja Martinez

When I ran for this office in 2016, I was asked what my top three priorities would be if elected.

Financial Literacy has always been top of my list!

My passion for financial literacy began in my childhood. I just didn’t know it at the time.

When I was in grade school, my mother would hand my brothers and I a piece of blank paper and tell us we had to prepare for an emergency. She said we had $200 to pay for groceries and they had to last as long as possible because nobody knew how long the emergency would last.

My brothers and I would go through the ads, clip coupons, make meal plans and menus. It was actually really exciting. We made our list, complete with estimated costs. My mother would take us to the grocery store, list in hand, my oldest brother holding the money, and dropped us off to shop. We were determined to step up to the challenge!

We got to hold cold hard cash, and we could buy whatever we wanted at the store! This was not as difficult as one might think. There were moments when we saw something we really wanted. There were arguments about need versus want. They were short lived. We ware on a mission. We were in emergency mode. We wanted to show our mom we could do it.

I had no idea how valuable these emergency shopping trips were. It never crossed my mind that my mom was teaching us how to manage money. In retrospect, I can see she was also teaching us about self-restraint, planning, cooperation and how much it meant to us to have our mother’s approval. Thank you mom for the life lesson!

Now, as school board president, I am really excited to share that we can check this one off the list.

Our board unanimously passed a resolution on financial literacy, April 17th, PUSD hosted the first event in support of financial literacy. We partnered with the Arizona Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic and financial literacy and workforce development. To date, ACEE is the only organization in Arizona that prepares educators to teach personal finance, economics and entrepreneurship.  ACEE also brought friends. Big thanks to Bank of America, Paypal and Vanguard for supporting the event. Families had the opportunity to participate in a decision-making activity of wants versus needs together over a meal. Families were introduced to free resources while students played games and participated in financial activities. It was a successful Family Financial Literacy Night at Peoria Elementary School.

This fun evening of learning came just four days after Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1184 which requires that all Arizona students receive personal finance education in their required economics class. The newly adopted Arizona history and social science standards, adopted in October 2018, already included these standards. This bill just codifies what was already there.

The Financial Literacy Family Night was just the first of many ways to demonstrate Peoria Unified’s commitment to ensure that “Every Student, Every Day” can shape their tomorrow by making financially sound decisions for their future.

Editor’s note: Ms. Ceja Martinez is the president of the Peoria Unified School District Board.



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