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CBS 3: Continuing Education is Beneficial for Philadelphia Financial Educator

Mar 21, 2015

This article was published on CBS 3’s website on March 21, 2015.

Erin Ellis is a financial educator at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU), one of the top five credit unions in the Greater Philadelphia area. Her chief responsibility is to give members the tools and knowledge they need to better manage their money and achieve their financial goals. In this role, she is responsible for creating PFCU’s financial education curriculum, providing one-on-one counseling with members, and presenting seminars on various personal finance topics, including, budgeting, saving money, credit, identity theft and home buying to PFCU members and a wide network of social services organizations throughout the Philadelphia region.

While you don’t teach in a traditional classroom environment, a primary role in your position is educating others. What is the most challenging aspect of teaching others?
“I provide financial education for adults and children throughout Philadelphia. The most challenging aspect of teaching both groups is capturing and holding everyone’s attention. I try to always begin my education sessions/workshops by having an activity or icebreaker to create the momentum I want to carry forward for the rest of the time we have together. To continue the engagement of everyone in the class I want to ensure I create a welcoming learning environment where attendees can share their opinions and ask questions without hesitation and fear of ridicule. Personal finance can be an emotional subject. I have each seminar planned with activities to encourage participation and keep a high level of energy/enthusiasm throughout the class.”

Are continuing education courses beneficial for someone in your position?
“Yes, learning new personal finance concepts, teaching strategies and tools are always beneficial. Laws that govern consumer rights and personal finance change all the time. Trends in banking and credit do too. It’s essential that I have the most accurate, up to date, financial information to pass along. In addition, I try to keep myself abreast of teaching techniques and ways to engage people.”

Do you feel a Masters education would be helpful in your day-to-day career?
“I’m really not sure, it’s hard for me to say if a master’s degree would be helpful. But I do think having expert knowledge in the areas I teach are crucial. Specific certifications in financial topics are probably more beneficial in my line of work than a master’s degree.”

Do you have any advice for people who are passionate about educating others but want to take an alternative path to doing so?
“Everyone has great knowledge in one area or a special talent they can share with others.  One does not have to be a teacher in a traditional school setting to teach.  One can mentor, tutor, start a blog, volunteer, host a career day, etc.  There are so many avenues one can travel to “teach” or educate others.  Many people want to teach but do not want to teach in the traditional classroom setting for various reasons. My challenge to them is to find something you’re passionate about and want to share your talent/knowledge to positively impact others.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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