The fourth- and fifth-graders in Tammie Granger's financial literacy classes at Goodwin Elementary know the difference between a piggy bank and a savings account.

But Granger's class, based on an online curriculum from South Carolina's Future Scholar Financial Literacy Program, goes way beyond that. Her students are thinking about the future.

Riley Metz has a plan to save for her first Tesla car. Ariana Mulligan knows about financial aid programs that can help pay for culinary school. Kimberly Maldonado-Cruz knows that a $600 TV can cost her $700 if she buys it on credit.

"I've seen huge growth with the kids," Granger said. "Even just talking amongst themselves, somebody was talking about expensive tennis shoes and the other student said, 'Is that a want or a need?' "

The Future Scholar curriculum takes students through a series of lessons and quiz games on the learning software company EverFi's Vault online program, interspersed with real-world examples and lessons that Granger teaches.

Thirty-three years into her teaching career, Granger has been having a banner year so far. The State Treasurer's Office named her February teacher of the month for the Future Scholar program, which the office helps provide on a contract with EverFi. In March, the South Carolina Education Association named Granger teacher of the month.

"We're extremely grateful to work with teachers like Mrs. Granger," State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said in a statement. "She sees the importance of teaching financial education to her students in an innovative way."

Loftis said his office plans to bring the financial literacy program to 175 elementary schools across the state this year.

At Goodwin, Principal Diane Ross believes in teaching financial literacy at an early age. She was the one who suggested that Granger start teaching the class in the computer lab, where she sees every student as the school's technology teacher.

As part of Goodwin's Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program, students who behave can also earn, save and spend "Gator Bucks." Fifth-graders keep track of those bucks in a check ledger that they balance themselves.

"We know our students love money, so we want to teach them how to manage that money and how to make money," Ross said. "We thought it was a great opportunity."

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Reach Paul Bowers at 843-937-5546 or

Paul Bowers is an education reporter and father of three living in North Charleston. He previously worked at the Charleston City Paper, where he was twice named South Carolina Journalist of the Year in the weekly category.

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