- Sara Wilson-Abell, who has been Fern Creek High School’s senior class sponsor for the past 10 years, tries to add new and innovative end-of-year events for the students.
- Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the extended school-closure, Fern Creek’s 2019-2020 senior class would be unable to participate in an in-person Adulting 101 course. Wilson-Abell was not going to let seniors miss out on this opportunity.
By Jacob Perkins
Kentucky’s public high schools strive to prepare their students for life after high school. By the time students receive their diploma, the hope is that they are college or career ready.
But what about financial planning? Or, what happens when they are on the side of the road with a flat tire? Do students truly understand the difference between buying and renting or when they should use a realtor?
Fern Creek High School (Jefferson County) Academies of Louisville Coach Sara Wilson-Abell heard the concerns of her students and decided to implement a program that would focus on issues that students will face once they enter the real world.
Wilson-Abell, who has been Fern Creek High School’s senior class sponsor for the past 10 years, tries to add new and innovative end-of-year events for the students.
“Every year when I talk to alumni who come back to visit they always tell me they felt prepared academically for life after high school but wished they would’ve learned more life skills,” she said.
For years, she has wanted to put together a program that would focus on these life skills and prepare students for life outside of academia. Last year, she finally made it happen, creating the Adulting 101 program.
“I started to list numerous topics; banking, insurance, easy cooking, how to do laundry, easy car repairs and the list kept growing,” Wilson-Abell explained. “With the support of my principal, Dr. Nicolas, she gave me the green light to make this a three-day seminar the last week of school for our seniors, with each day covering a specific topic.”
Wilson-Abell created six different sessions that the seniors rotated through during the day. The topics ranged from dealing with money, insurance, what they would need to know about retirement, basic banking and creating a budget.
“Our job as educators is to ensure our students are prepared for life after high school. Knowing some of our students felt they lacked some of these basic life skills made me want to provide every opportunity possible for our students to be as prepared as possible,” she said.
Fern Creek has always been a community school. Once local businesses learned of the program, they were eager to jump on board, providing a terrific networking opportunity for the students.
Wilson-Abell said students who have participated in the program now have contacts in multiple professional areas that they can reach out to, whether it be a general follow-up question or about a possible career.
Last year’s senior class was Fern Creek’s inaugural Adulting 101 class.
“The seniors were so appreciative of the whole thing and the underclassmen got to witness all of these amazing sessions our seniors got to attend,” said Wilson-Abell.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis and the extended school closures, Fern Creek’s 2019-2020 senior class was unable to participate in an in-person Adulting 101 course. Wilson-Abell was not going to let seniors miss out on this opportunity.
“I didn’t want this year’s class, who has already been stripped of so many staple senior activities, to miss out on this. So as soon as I knew we would not be coming back to school, I started to come up with the alternative option: doing it all online,” she said.
With the help of communications teachers Don and Paula Fowler, Fern Creek set up a How to Adult 101 YouTube channel where videos are uploaded that teach a specific life skill.
After the channel was made, Wilson-Abell needed to come up with a place for all of the videos to live. Thankfully, she wouldn’t have to search too far.
“My husband, Josh Abell, also a teacher at Fern Creek High School and our head football coach, helped me in creating the (Adulting 101) website so the videos could be presented in an organized manner,” she said. “I created a spreadsheet with all of the topics we covered last year plus some new ones I wanted to add, and then I started to reach out to our business partners, alumni and faculty members to see who would want to make a video covering one of the topics.”
Overall, Wilson-Abell received over 15 videos to house on Fern Creek’s site and so far, the response has been positive.
“The students are sad about missing out on the in-person interaction but now they have this website to refer to for years to come,” she said. “I have even had alumni reach back to me to tell me that they’ve been watching some of the videos, too, so it’s not only impacting our current seniors, but really all of our students.”
Parents from other schools have reached out to thank Wilson-Abell and have begun sharing the videos with their children.
According to Wilson-Abell, this online version of Adulting 101 isn’t just a quick fix for the COVID-19 problem everyone is currently facing. The site will be a living resource where videos will continue to be added for years to come.
“However, if we can do this in person next year, we will absolutely do that,” she said. “Doing some of these things in person is very powerful and if we can do it, we will.”
Business and community members who are participating in Fern Creek’s Adulting 101:
- River City Bank
- Fern Creek Fire Department
- Calvert Tax Services
- Monroe Shrine & Co.
- Alpha Financial Partners
- Comprehensive Pharmacy Services
- GE Appliances
- Highnote Marketing
- Knob and Key Realty
- eXp Realty
- Park Community Credit Union
- Fern Creek High School alumni from classes of 1966, 1989, 1999, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016
- Multiple Fern Creek faculty members and family members of faculty
For more information about COVID-19:
- Kentucky Department for Public Health’s COVID-10 webpage
- KDE’s 2019 COVID-19 webpage
- COVID-19 Hotline (800) 722-5725