An Altoona High School teacher won a statewide award Thursday for her work as a personal finance instructor and involvement in a financial literacy program for high school students.
Kelly Ostrander, in her 27th year at Altoona High School, received the 2016 Financial Literacy Award in the legacy category.
Gov. Scott Walker’s Council on Financial Literacy selected all 15 winners, many of whom hail from larger cities such as Green Bay and Madison.
Ostrander discovered she won the award via email on Thursday afternoon.
“I was in shock and crying,” Ostrander said of the surprise email, “because I had no idea.”
According to a release from the office of the governor, recipients of the award have a “purpose and heritage ingrained in sustained financial literacy and capability.”
Jay Mielke, a high school counselor at Altoona High School, recognized those qualities in Ostrander and decided to nominate the finance teacher without telling her.
“She has a really long history and dedication to financial literacy and the importance of it being taught as a required class,” Mielke said. “She’s definitely about providing opportunities for students and certainly doesn’t do it for the glory."
Ostrander helped petition school officials to make personal finance a required class for all students in 2008, according to an online resource of the 2016 winners’ achievements.
Ostrander said learning financial values is essential to help younger generations prepare for retirement and to not spend more than they earn.
She also partnered with the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce and other area school districts to create “Real Life Academy,” an interactive financial literacy program that serves about 500 high school students every year.
Despite all she’s accomplished as a teacher over the years, Ostrander said sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the work is making a difference for her students.
“It’s just an honor,” Ostrander said of her award. “It means that maybe something I’m doing is making a difference.”
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