MINEOLA, NY (WCBS 880) -- A private high school on Long Island is teaching financial responsibility - a real-world skill people often learn on their own.
Chaminade High School in Mineola requires a two-year financial literacy course for juniors and seniors. The class aims to prevent students from forming bad habits at a young age.
"I think for many of us, we learned how money works just by making the mistakes along the way and making those first decisions on our own," said Chaminade president Brother Thomas Cleary who implemented the curriculum after Bloomberg proposed the idea in 2014. The financial firm sponsors the course and the school's business center.
"We really want to empower our young men here to have the knowledge of how their money works before they actually have to press that button and put it into action," he said.
A number of business leaders, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, have said they wish they had been able to take a finance class in high school. Bro. Thomas told WCBS 880 he would connect anyone interested in starting a financial literacy course at their school with Chaminade's representative at Bloomberg.
Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso look at how sound financial principles apply to running a business on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank. Entrepreneurship can lead people down a path to financial freedom, but operating a business well requires financial discipline, as Chaminade's class addresses.
"We have a number of young men, who are still in college, who've started their own businesses and have said that this financial literacy course really helped them navigate the ups and downs of starting a business while a college-aged student," Bro. Thomas said. "We're seeing in real-time the benefits of this course, and I think over the long-term, the benefits of our young men going into the business world with a solid understanding of how money works and how to make it work better for themselves and for our society is a win-win for everybody."
The class focuses on saving for retirement, investing and avoiding credit card debt. Students at the all-boys Catholic high school also learn about the benefits of different types of investment accounts, including Roth IRAs and 401(k)s, and partake in a stock market competition in which the teens begin with a faux balance of $1 million to purchase stocks.
"You walk in the hallway, you'll see kids checking on their iPad what their investment is doing that day and where it's going," the school president said of the enthusiasm he has witnessed first-hand. "These are 17, 18 year old kids who are really interested and that's how the teachers keep them really interested in the course."
The students monitor their portfolios through the semester with a close eye on movements in the market in real-time. The course's instructors are experienced Wall Street professionals who bring their real-world experience into the classroom to relate how macro decisions affect people on a personal level.
"You know, where the market goes, it affects not only interest rates but how that affects mortgage loans and credit card debt and just the economy globally," noted Bro. Thomas. "I've seen the instructors take one really minute detail in the news that day - you know, why did the stock go up or down - and they just show the ripple affect across the globe in so many different sectors."
He told Connolly and Carousso that Chaminade's objective is to provide a financial toolkit and a foundation students can build upon in their professional careers and personal lives.
"I got one email recently saying that his course at Chaminade was probably one of the most influential courses he had in terms of helping him decide what he wanted to study and where his passion was," Bro. Thomas said.
See ideas on how to teach your kids about financial responsibility and get book recommendations for the holidays to make learning fun and engaging on the Small Business Spotlight video above.