Adults leading a recent program include, clockwise from upper right, TSIC college success coach Connie Kolisnyk, Parady Financial Group chief operating officer Hillary Grandbois, and The Villages residents Gregg and Christine Baldwin.

Creating and managing a budget, preparing for a job interview and overcoming adversity are common life skills that just about everyone needs at some point. But how do you master these situations when they’re not taught in the classroom or at home?

Students in the Take Stock in Children (TSIC) of Lake and Sumter program have been coached on those soft skills, as well as how to manage stress choose a college major at the Parady Student Learning Lounge, funded by Parady Financial Group.

On April 14, TSIC students participated in the workshop, “Five Money Lessons for High School Students.” The program is an offshoot of the Parady Learning Lounge, which The Villages-based financial services company offers to clients to teach strategies for retirement.

“My husband Gregg and I started a non-profit in Pittsburgh in 2003, which operates today, to help families of students with disabilities, as our son was a special needs student. Our journey led us to Florida and we wanted to continue to help students. We realized that there were soft skills that were not often being taught in the public schools,” said Christine Baldwin, a resident of the Village of Hillsborough. “We developed a program and pitched it to Greg Parady. We were clients of his and appreciated his philanthropy toward helping students. He became a great partner with us! We reached out to TSIC who loved the idea.”

The initial Parady Student Learning Lounge was held in January 2018 and the curriculum focused on dining etiquette. TSIC students have been invited to formal dinners every few months, each with a different topic such as which utensils to use at a formal dinner and other tableside lessons. Due to the pandemic, the Parady Student Learning Lounge sessions have been held virtually for the current school year.

“We are grateful to Parady Financial Group and the Baldwins for offering this innovative and fun program to our TSIC students,” said Carman Cullen-Batt, executive director of the TSIC program in Lake and Sumter counties. “This opportunity empowers our students by exposing them to social skills and core values which will ultimately help them navigate the real world to become productive assets to society.”

Take Stock in Children of Lake & Sumter Counties’ mission is to break the cycle of poverty for low-income, academically qualified students by providing opportunities for a post-secondary education. 

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