• Back to School: A College Math Teacher's Perspective

    by Jennifer Scheck Associate Financial Planner | August 19, 2022

    Isn’t summer wonderful?! There is a carefree, unscheduled, vacation-filled freedom that refreshes and restores. But oh, how it flies by!

    My oldest son is a senior at the University of Iowa. My daughter is back at the University of Kansas for her sophomore year, and my youngest son just began his senior year at Dowling Catholic High School.

    I would like to hit the pause button! I am so thankful we enjoyed time together this summer while they were all back in the nest and we made fun memories during our summer vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

    As a former high school math teacher and college adjunct professor, this “Back to School” time of year also brings back memories of returning to school to welcome a new year of students.

    For those of you for whom I serve as your Associate Financial Planner, you may have heard me share my career journey from education to financial planning. Although at first glimpse, it may appear to be a dramatic career change, the similarities are many.

    The transition from my math background, teaching skills, compassion, and attention to detail to financial planning has been rewarding and fulfilling. Time flies here, too, as I begin my fourth year at Syverson Strege.

    As a teacher, preparation and flexibility are key. You do not enter a room of high school or college students without a plan … and a backup plan or two!

    After each class, teachers reflect on the students’ questions and comprehension in order to provide clarity, continuity, and direction for their next class. Since students learn uniquely, teachers prepare visual aids, charts, graphs, written examples, verbal instruction, and opportunities for exploration to encompass varied opportunities for comprehension.

    Sometimes lessons go just as expected. Other times student questions lead to a realization that further practice and explanation are needed. Other days, students turn the tables and provide a thought or perspective that the teacher did not consider, which creates fun opportunities for engagement and discussion. And in some instances, the math topic gets disrupted temporarily because a student or classroom of students needs to address a more pressing personal issue or concern before being able to return to engagement in the math content at hand.

    Shockingly, math is not every student’s favorite subject but there are students who absolutely love math. They want the theory, proof, explanation, and deep dive. Other students for whom math is a challenge or have limited interest are oftentimes more successful with the basics and repetition. This all leads to their comprehension and “aha moments.”

    Because of this diversity, it is wonderful to have collaboration with other teachers. We may share with other colleagues an activity or lesson that has been fun and successful. A teacher may have experienced a similar challenging situation with a student who can offer suggestions and assistance. Having an open environment for communication with a common goal of student success creates a great work environment and camaraderie.

    As an Associate Financial Planner, preparation and flexibility are also key. In preparing for Annual Planning Sessions and Investment Reviews, we contact our clients to gather financial updates, get caught up on their recent life events, request topics they would like to discuss, and inquire of current or upcoming life changes and expenses that may impact their goals and retirement projections.

    We then complete comprehensive analyses and run projections of the data to consider solutions, anticipate additional questions, and prepare the information in graphs, charts, written, and oral forms. This helps to communicate effectively and empower decisions during the meeting. Sometimes the meetings go just as anticipated. Other times additional topics arise that require further analysis. In some cases, client concerns and life events come to the surface that need more priority than the financial topic at hand.

    Investments are not every client’s favorite topic. Some clients could discuss the market and investments endlessly. Others prefer to be informed but enjoy more high-level discussions and summaries. And in many instances, a balance of both is desired.

    We modify our materials accordingly and are fortunate to have a wonderful collaborative environment among our planners and associate financial planners to seek wisdom, suggestions, and share experiences and strategies for the benefit of our clients.

    Our investment and planning committees provide further knowledge for various scenarios that may arise. A client may be in a transition year trying to determine when to retire and the timing of their pension election. In other situations, a client may be considering purchasing a new home or second home. As clients approach age 72, required minimum distributions and their tax implications require complex analysis. With whatever topics arise, our goal is to effectively communicate comprehensive information to empower an informed and confident financial planning decision.

    It is a privilege in both teaching and financial planning to be entrusted with the care of another. Both these environments are sacred spaces.

    Personal and financial information is private and confidential. The fiduciary role we have to advocate and act in the best interest of those we serve is a true gift of trust, transparency, and integrity.

    Enjoy these final days of summer as a new season approaches and routines return. As a lifelong learner, I am furthering my education and pursuing my Certified Financial Planning certification. I hope you, too, will continue to grow, learn, seek new opportunities, and dream big dreams in each stage of life.  

    We enjoy being on your team to educate and guide you through each season … the carefree, the routine, and the unexpected … to empower you to help make your dreams a reality.

    Jennifer Scheck Associate Financial Planner
    Jennifer Scheck is an Associate Financial Planner at Syverson Strege. She holds a master's degree in math education from the University of Kansas and had a career as a high school math teacher and college adjunct professor. Seeking to redirect her math talent to a business environment, Jennifer broadened her finance experience at Principal Financial Group where she was a financial analyst in Retirement Income Solutions. In 2019, she joined Syverson Strege to merge her passions for both education and financial planning to serve clients and support the financial planners at Syverson Strege. Jennifer is currently seeking her CFP® designation to further her education and achieve her professional goals.

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