In the inspiring words of Malala Yousafzai, “one child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world,” but what does it truly mean to be a teacher and how does one navigate such a career path? Stephanie has an answer. On this episode of #MoneyRise, she shares her journey as a teacher, her relationship with money and her experience on Rise.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do

My name is Stephanie. I’m a fiction writer and poet. I love to create stories, and it’s my dream to live as a professional writer. Currently, for income, I’m an English teacher. I transitioned from primary and secondary school teaching to teaching foreigners English as a second language. That’s what I do on a day-to-day basis. I haven’t earned in bulk as a writer except when people randomly buy my book, and I get the usual royalties. But teaching is my primary source of income. Apart from writing and teaching, I also run an Instagram Christian ministry where I share the Word of God and help people to achieve progress and joy in the faith.

Have you always loved teaching?

Yes, I’ve always loved to teach. At 7, I already wanted to be a teacher. When everyone talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up, I knew I wanted to teach. My dad hadn’t started teaching then but later became a teacher himself. He teaches at a university as a part-time lecturer. I also have an aunt who is a professor of English at UNILAG and another one who is a professor of Maths at UNN. Teaching is something that I enjoy and is a part of my family.

But apart from just the passion, you also have to learn the how-to because many beginner teachers struggle to teach, which is why we learn to teach. You go for a post-grad or a master’s, or even a first degree. Although English is a natural language, I had to learn it because teaching English is a different ball game.

What does teaching mean to you?

It means enabling young or adult learners to grasp the foundational knowledge and skills that they will use for the rest of their lives or their day-to-day job is a wonderful gift. Teaching is a profession that gives me access to that God-given gift.

What has your experience been like teaching? 

It’s been quite diverse because I’ve taught young kids, toddlers, teenagers and adults, both Nigerian and foreign. My experience varies between the subject and age, and I enjoy it all. I enjoy having multiple stories to tell, “Oh, my young learner today did…” Or “My adult learner opened my eyes to ….” And things like these have made me better.

That’s interesting. Would you like to speak about your experiences as a black teacher?

I have encountered racist situations that were not outrightly name-calling racism. In interviews, I have experienced racism where interviewers believe that Nigerians are non-English speakers; hence, they refuse to pay me what they pay their teachers from England. And when I tell them to look up online to see that we’re an English-speaking country and that it’s our official language, they still insist that we are not and wouldn’t pay me accordingly.

I have also encountered students who ask me what it is like to live in London, and when I say I’m a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria, they seem surprised and say that I’m smart or “speak well for a Nigerian”. Or some of them who, the first time they see an English teacher and it’s someone much darker than they are, begin to ask where I’m from or how I speak excellent English. If I got a dollar for the number of times I’ve been told that I speak good English in my first classes, I would have a lot more money on Risevest. 

I just have to soak up everything. Over time, they see that all their concerns don’t mean anything. I think the most discomfort I’ve experienced was when I wore a floral dress to class, and one of my students went, “Oh, my God, I love the African prints.” I told him outrightly that it was a floral dress, but the more I said it, the more he wanted to keep insisting that it was Ankara. I had to give up. I’m just happy I don’t get to teach him anymore because he was annoying.

Quite disappointing. So how do you manage this kind of people? How do you deal with comments like this? 

People may not be happy to hear this, but as an Igbo woman, my payment comes first. I’m not inclined to call them racist; I toggle it off if I can because I need to get paid. But if they’re blatant, I don’t mind stopping in the tracks and politely calling out their actions or unkindness. There was one I had to tell that his actions were very inappropriate. I can’t exactly remember what he did or said now, but I knew I just had to call it out. But usually, I’d laugh it off. I don’t care; I just want to get paid my money and go.

Speaking of money, what is your relationship with money?

God, I have a very unhealthy relationship with money which I am learning to correct. As a Christian, I should understand money as just a tool, but I see it as something that could disappear tomorrow, so I should save it. And because I live in Nigeria, anything can happen tomorrow. You’re just one sickness away from poverty. You’re always one trouble away from poverty. So any money wey I see like this, I dey save am. I could even have about 2k extra on my account, and rather than spend it, I’d save it. And if, for any reason, I have to bring that money from my savings, I’ll have a “breakdown”. 

When I had to do my passport renewal, I was so unhappy. If I could, I would carry an expired passport because why am I spending ₦200,000 on that? And then I live on the island, so the cost of living is higher here. For everything I spend, I will talk about it for two days before I can calm down. But generally, I save more than I spend, which often puts me in days of discomfort. But then I feel comfortable knowing that I have money in my savings.

As a teacher who has lived and taught in England and Nigeria, how different would you say both educational systems are?

There’s a 100% difference. I’ve been in and have taught the British curriculum system. I’ve also been in and have taught the Nigerian curriculum system. The British curriculum is hands down 79x better. First, they teach you not to cram but to learn and apply. For instance, when you do literature in a Nigerian secondary school, you may be asked to define figures of speech and then read a story and point out the figures of speech.

Meanwhile, the British curriculum tells you to read a book like Purple Hibiscus and you’ll be asked to compare the life of Kambili and juxtapose that to the life of a 15-year-old girl here in Nigeria and find out the similarities. That way, you’re thinking and writing and developing your writing and thinking skills, which is so much more different. And this is even for the barest minimum. Kids know a lot more from the beginning and can use certain words in conversations. The Nigerian curriculum needs to do better by a lot.

Let’s talk about Rise; how long have you been on Rise, and how has your journey been? 

I’ve been on Rise since 2021. And my experience has been great. I found out about Rise when I complained to Chidimma of Finlit Africa about the need to start investing, and she recommended the app to me. And my experience so far has been amazing. I use my account both for my personal needs and for me and my husband. I love that I can see all my plans and add to them. What I love most is that I’m not charged ridiculous fees. Any amount I put in my wallet is the amount I can transfer to any plan. I can see the growth, how much I put in and the interest on my investments. I usually get in-app notifications and emails alerting me of every transaction. I’m pleased.

Love it! How has Rise helped your journey?

Being able to save on my Rise account meant I could take out money when I needed to renew my passport, take out money for international trips, etc. Everything became seamless after I saved my Wema account on my bank app. So anytime I get paid, I don’t even have to open the Rise app; I just go to my regular bank app, send the money to my Rise account, and see the money reflected in dollars. Knowing that I have money invested in Rise is financially freeing.

I’ve also had some emergencies, so I just went to my Rise and pulled out some funds to resolve them. Once, I was looking for stock options like ETFs and went on Rise and saw that I could access them there. It was amazing because I didn’t have to go far. I just quickly invested in it and moved on. It has also helped me to be accountable. Because I have different plans open, I know exactly how much I’ve put into them and my targets. I have one that I even exceeded the target. And because of the interest rate, I see how much interest I’ve accumulated with my money. I’m grateful.

One of my favourite things about Rise is the peace of mind that it gives me, knowing that my money is safe. I know that if I put $500 there, despite how bad the market is, I’ll still make gains, except for a reason beyond their control, like the value of the naira going down or the stock market. With Risevest, I can sleep at night. I know what I’m putting my money into, and I like that it’s also a life investment.

So what plans do you have on Rise, and which is your favourite?

First, I have a stock plan. While my money keeps going up and down, I love it because of the portfolio. When you look at the companies in the portfolio, you just know it will come back up in the long term. After the stock plan, my next favourite is the Build wealth plan, which I use as an emergency fund. It has a mix of all three asset classes. I also have a fixed-income plan. I think I have an addiction to just opening plans. Each time I get money, I just want to put it in a plan.

Great choices. What are your thoughts on investing?

100% do it, and start today. Risevest makes it easy. 

What advice do you have for young people looking to teach as a career path?

First of all, you need to have a passion for teaching. You have to be interested in it and not just because you think it is an easy way out. Then actually learn the skill. I don’t like to see people who want to teach but lack the necessary professional skills. So learn, and you will get to that place where you desire. Please, follow through with all it takes to succeed as a teacher.

You too can be like Stephanie and own shares of some of your favourite companies or invest in US real estate. Click here to create a Rise plan and begin investing.