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    Fireside Financial Seminar Debuts

    "What's the difference between a checking account and a savings account?" "Why is the interest rate so low? And what IS compound interest?" "How does Foxcroft reconcile its checkbook each month?"

    These were among the many and varied questions students had for Foxcroft Business Manager Deborah Anderson and Financial Algebra teacher Denise Simms Wednesday night (Jan. 14) when a new evening seminar called "Fireside Financial," debuted in Roomies.

    About a dozen girls from all four grades showed up to learn about banking basics; 26 have signed up to participate in the five-part seminar about managing and investing money, for individuals and organizations.

    Inspired in part by the awesome gift to the School that Ruth Bedford '32 made this fall, the seminar is the latest installment of Foxcroft's growing efforts to incorporate financial literacy and investment basics into the educational experience it offers girls.

    The School offers Advanced Placement courses in Macro and Micro Economics as well as the innovative Advanced Financial Algebra math elective. It also has a student-run Stock Market Club. Academic Dean Courtney Ulmer, however, looks to the Fireside Financial Seminar to lay the foundation for a more intensive financial literacy and investment curriculum in the future.

    For the moment, the seminar's participants are excited about learning the basics. They were full of questions as Simms introduced banking tools such as checking, savings, CDs and money market accounts and the concepts of compounding interest, savings rates and more.

    Anderson, the seminar organizer and a 30+ year veteran of the business world, said that representatives of Middleburg Bank will be at the next session to discuss banks and bank investments. But students added a practical, hands-on item to the agenda: balancing Foxcroft's books! Noting that Foxcroft's Business Office uses essentially the same process as do individuals reconciling their checking accounts, Anderson asked off-handedly, "Would you like to help me reconcile our accounts?" The response was immediate and affirmative, so she plans to do that at the Jan. 28 seminar meeting.

    Sessions about the stock market and Foxcroft's investing strategies, with guest experts from Foxcroft's Board of Trustees and elsewhere -- are planned for later sessions but Anderson and Simms also want to leave time to respond to the girls' interests. 

    The most important lesson Anderson hopes to teach, however, is the importance of women knowing about these topics and putting that knowledge to use at a young age -- whether it's understanding the fine print/varied terms of a bank account or saving a fraction of their income.  "You'd be surprised at how little so many people know about planning for their future," she says. "Plus, Ruth's gift shows us what a great impact women can have in the world of finance and philanthropy. Our girls need to understand that."