Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, the all girls, PS-12 school in Princeton, is known for graduating young women leaders through an innovative and challenging education that includes STEM, the arts, athletics, and social action.

That’s why Stuart takes an integrative approach to teaching girls and young women, especially when it comes to important life skills like money and finance.

“The Stuart Institute for Finance and Economics (SIFE) works to incorporate real-world financial knowledge and skills into the curriculum, taking economic theory out of textbooks and putting it into practice,” said Dr. Patty Fagin, head of school. She continued: “Social awareness is fundamental here, so the girls also learn how they can use money and business to make a difference in communities and the world in which they live.”

The Institute was generously funded by a lead gift from Rusty and Rene Johnson and additional contributions from Stuart parents and alumnae. According to Lower School Math Curriculum Specialist Susan Beshel, the initiative is an organic extension of the curriculum, as finance concepts are built into classes and experiences, starting from kindergarten through high school.

“We take our youngest students from identifying and counting money, to running their own kindergarten cafe,” she added. “Third graders create budget proposals and needs/wants assessments to choose a charity beneficiary for their Women We Admire Day fundraiser. We integrate service learning by having the girls investigate where the money raised can have the greatest impact.”

Middle school students develop their skills in trimester classes, which vary by grade, and cover individual finance, investments, business, and macroeconomics. These concepts are also intentionally incorporated into other classes such as social studies and mathematics, and also school clubs and service days.

This year the middle schoolers joined upper school students and faculty in the Stuart Stock Exchange. With 100,000 virtual dollars to invest using Investopedia’s Stock Simulator, students keep track of their investments and learn (quickly) the perils and potential rewards of buying, selling, and trading. Standings scroll, along with the real NYSE stock prices, on the school’s ticker.

One of the more exciting programs from the institute is the Business Fair in the upper school finance class. Students devise a business, from concept through startup and operating costs, to be pitched to a panel of outside “investors.” This “theory in action” approach to teaching and learning allows the students to pick a subject that is meaningful to them. According to economics teacher Sean Malloy, every business plan created or directly supported a charitable organization, despite no requirement to do so.

“It is programs like this that help our girls to define their dreams,” said Beshel. One young woman’s business modeled cosmetics and clothing in nude tones for people of color. “These are not fake ideas. This student hopes to execute on her plan.”

The goal of the Stuart Institute for Finance and Economics is to provide real-world, practical education as an organic extension of their everyday learning.

Dr. Fagin explained, “Our goal is to graduate financially literate, capable and competent women able to lead Fortune 500 companies, a sustainable farm, or any other career they choose.”

Stuart prepares young women for lives of exceptional leadership and service through a challenging and innovative curriculum, superb teaching and close attention to each girl’s personal development. Learn more at or by calling 609-921-2330.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, 1200 Stuart Road, Princeton. 609-921-2330.

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