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Teachers start financial workshops for community

CONYERS - Two Rockdale County teachers have decided to use their skills and talents to help students and families struggling with financial problems during tough economic times.

"All over the news is how bad the economy is and how much we are in debt as a nation," said Chris Wood, an economics instructor at Salem High School.

Wood and SHS business education instructor Penny Clark noticed an increasing number of families in the Salem High community dealing with financial struggles.

The two said they hear about more and more students no longer driving to school, houses going up for sale or going intoforeclosure and parents losing their jobs, forcing students to pick up work to help out.

"Students are getting it and are pretty receptive to (help)," Wood said.

Although each high school holds various financial aid workshops and teachers provide other resources to families when they can, Wood and Clark wanted to take an extra step to provide help in the community.

The two educators decided to begin a monthly financial workshop for students and families in the area to hear advice from professionals and discuss issues they are worried about or are already facing. Originally, the teachers wanted to hold the workshops for only Salem High School students and their families. Once word got out, however, other schools asked if their families could attend this session, so Wood and Clark have opened it up to any family who needs help.

"There's a screaming need for this to help our community and kids," Wood said.

Starting Thursday and then one Thursday per month until May, the public is invited to attend financial workshops at Salem High School. Field professionals and other speakers are expected to host large and small group presentations and discussions to provide practical assistance and problem solving methods for those facing economic hardship.

Thursday's session is about taxes, in anticipation of tax season; checking and budgeting will be discussed Feb. 26; paying for college is the topic for March 26; talking about credit cards and debt is planned for April 23; and saving and investing will be the May 14 topic.

"If we can get people into a room and teach them that (talking about these subjects) is not as taboo of a topic as they thought, then they will be able to talk, make better decisions and hopefully go further," Clark said. "Making financial decisions ... is a big puzzle, and we try to figure it out. We need to do something."

Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Salem High School auditorium, followed by a brief introduction at 7 p.m. Attendees will break into small groups, where professionals will lead discussions for about 20 minutes, and then rotate to different rooms for different discussions and topics.

Clark said they hope these workshops will help improve financial preparation and foster open family communication.

"Talking about it builds knowledge and good decision making and so on," she said. "We want them to make good decisions so they will be in a better place tomorrow."

SideBar: If You Go

What: Financial Workshops

When: 7 to 9 p.m. one Thursday each month from January to May (registration begins at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: Salem High School, 3551 Underwood Road, Conyers

More Information: www.rockdale.k12.ga.us/schools/shs

Schedule:

Thursday - Taxes

Feb. 26 - Checking/Budgeting

March 26 - Paying for College

April 23 - Credit Cards and Debt

May 14 - Saving and Investing