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Caldwell Trust Company vice president Susan H. Hines teaches SKY Academy students about stocks and STEM

by Sheryl Vieira
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VENICE, FL –Students usually take the classes that their teachers and parents recommend, even if they do not always understand the reason for a given course. In a February presentation, Susan H. Hines, J.D., a vice president and trust officer at Caldwell Trust Company, showed eighth-graders at SKY Academy how their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes fit into everyday life.

An estate planner with a doctorate in law, Hines recognized the value of simplicity in presenting information to four classes—some 125 students—at the tuition-free, public charter school at 705 South Center Road. South County Family YMCA founded SKY (“Strength and Knowledge at the YMCA”) Academy in 2011 for middle-school students.

Hines introduced the young people to the basics of the stock market and explained how their STEM subjects underpin the many complex activities that run the financial operations of the entire world. With technological assistance from Sheryl Vieira, Caldwell’s marketing manager, Hines used PowerPoint slides and a smart board—an interactive whiteboard—to illustrate real-time workings of the stock exchange.

Students even learned how a movie can affect the stock value of a TV network. When they asked to track ESPN, the popular sports network, the ticker symbol “ESPN” took them to a completely different company. They discovered that the ESPN they sought was listed under “DIS” because Disney had acquired the network in 1996. Because Disney’s new animated film Frozen is a hit, they were able to track increases in the value of the stock.

Hines found her visit stimulating. “The students had a lot of questions,” she said. “We talked about money management and when they should start saving. They were really positive about the class. It’s encouraging to see young people so engaged in their education and so excited. They were especially interested to learn how the information applied to them.”

The February class is the most recent phase of Caldwell’s support for SKY. The company has been involved with the Academy since its start, with two Caldwell officers on the YMCA board: vice president and trust officer Wendy Fishman--then the YMCA board chair--and R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr., Caldwell’s CEO and president. Support has been both in-kind and financial. In 2012, for example, when SKY needed funding to buy computers for students, Caldwell’s board voted to donate $10,000.