Educators from Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County Public Schools were honored for their innovative and effective ways of bringing economics lessons to the classroom. The Economic Education Awards, presented on Oct. 17, were sponsored by the Harrisonburg Rotary Club and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc. The awards include cash prizes ranging from $250 to $1,000.
“Economics is important–and everybody understands that in a presidential election year,” said JMU economics professor William Wood, director of the university’s Center for Economic Education. “Economic education may even be more important than economics at a time such as this. Think about how different our campaign might be if large numbers of voters truly understood economics and did not fall for easy slogans.”
Russell Kohrs of the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School for Environmental Science and Technology was the grand prize winner. His project, “Exploring Energy: An Economic and Environmental Exploration of Solar Energy,” taught students important lessons on environmental principles and economic concepts.
The reserve grand prize went to Lisa Long and Walt Williamson of Harrisonburg High School for creating “The Blue Streak Food Company,” a meal delivery business for teachers that involved students at every stage–from recipe selection to delivery.
Virginia Munns of Smithland Elementary School was the first-place winner in the elementary division. Her project, “Auction Antics,” involved kindergarten students exchanging pennies for items ranging from pets to privileges to teach lessons about cost and choice.
Two projects were recognized in the middle school division. Allen J. Ruliffson of J. Frank Hillyard Middle School won first place honors for “Diamonds are Forever.” The project engaged all of Hillyard’s seventh graders in studies of the international market for diamonds. The second place prize was won by Callie Randolph and Marta Frederick of Skyline Middle School for “Homemade Vs. Store-Bought Crepes.” The three-day lesson used an extended cost comparison to teach students about marketing, decision-making and cooking.
All of the projects were entered in a statewide competition, which awards three prizes for the K-12 level. Randolph and Frederick’s project received the second place award in that competition, while Long and Williamson received third place for their project. These awards will be presented on Dec. 9 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
In addition to the local awards, regional and state-level honors were presented at the event:
Beth Yelverton, librarian at Ottobine Elementary School, was the Shenandoah Regional Winner for the “Reading Makes Cent$” program, sponsored by the Virginia 529 college savings plan. Under Yelverton’s direction, Ottobine students read the most economics-relevant books in the Shenandoah region.
Hillyard’s Ruliffson, who was honored in the local competition, was named Virginia Social Studies Teacher of the Year. He also will be recognized at the annual meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies.
Sondra Colvin and Emily Hartman of South River Elementary School were winners in a statewide mini-grant competition sponsored by the Virginia Council on Economic Education. They used their mini-grant to start a “Coffee Cart” business at the school, involving their 4thand 5th grade students. The business was so successful that it expanded to become the “The South River Breakfast Cart,” complete with hand-made uniforms for the student employees who served teachers throughout the school.
The JMU Center for Economic Education is an affiliate of the Virginia Council on Economic Education. Its teacher outreach is a sponsored program of Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that seeks to promote economic literacy and understanding of the free enterprise system in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Dr. William C. Wood of the SVEE-funded Center for Economic Education at JMU has been chosen to receive the top research award given by the National Association of Economic Educators. Wood will receive the Henry H. Villard Research Award, which the award charter says was “established to encourage and recognize outstanding contributions in economic education research.” NAEE will confer the award on Wood in Phoenix, AZ October 6 at the organization’s annual meeting, jointly held with the Council for Economic Education.
Wood credited SVEE’s partnership with making the award possible. “SVEE’s support of economic education has made it possible for me to work with great economic education field workers like Martha Hopkins, Joan Harper and Lynne Stover. It has made all the difference — having their reactions and their experience to draw from.”
Wood’s publications in economic education span a period of more than 30 years, beginning with “The Educational Potential of News Coverage of Economics,” published in the field’s leading journal, The Journal of Economic Education, in 1985. Wood has since published scholarly work with 22 different coauthors, four of whom were JMU undergraduates in honors or independent study programs. His work includes the U.S. economic history textbook Economic Episodes in American History (with Mark C. Schug) and an antitrust study published by The MIT Press (with Kenneth G. Elzinga).
Here’s a video that tells the story of the GEM Fair, which began under SVEE sponsorship. The Global Entrepreneurship Marketplace Fair brings together students from classroom mini-economics for a simulated international marketplace. Prizes are awarded in a variety of categories including best product and best marketing. New in 2016 is the addition of Union Bank & Trust as presentation sponsor. Thanks to all who make it work!
Russell Kohrs has won the grand prize in the local economic education competition sponsored by the Harrisonburg Rotary Club and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce for a Broadway High School project.
The winning project was “Concentrating on Copper: An Exploration in Mineral Commodities.” This project combined earth science principles and economic concepts to show students the importance of finite resources.
Since completing the project at Broadway, Kohrs has joined the faculty of the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School for Environmental Science and Technology in Mt. Jackson.
The prize carries a $1,000 cash award. All the local winners were recognized at a meeting of the Rotary Club on October 5.
The reserve grand prize in the competition was won by Allen J. Ruliffson and Kim Fawley of J. Frank Hillyard Middle School.
In the Ruliffson-Fawley project, “Barracuda Barrel,” students learned what the Industrial Revolution was really like by pitching 19th century products to a panel of “Shark Tank”-like judges.
First prize among elementary school projects was won by Laura Thomas of Waterman Elementary School for her “Waterman Elementary Bookstore,” in which fourth graders learned retail skills while helping their fellow students get access to books.
Second place for elementary projects went to Andrea Nolley of Smithland Elementary School for “Decide, Reflect, Revise: Journaling through Mini-Economy.” For Nolley’s project, diverse students in an 11-week after-school program sharpened their writing and entrepreneurship skills in an economy they created.
First place in the middle school division went to Kim Fawley and Allen J. Ruliffson for their project, “Revolution on Animal Farm: Using George Orwell’s Novel to Learn about Communism and the Russian Revolution.”
In the high school division, first place went to Shelley Bryant of Turner Ashby High School for “Child Labor and Migrant Labor Simulation Games.” Bryant’s project used original simulations of labor practices under difficult conditions to help students understand child and migrant labor in real life and in literature.
Second place in the high school division was won by Justin King and Janeen Dofflemeyer of East Rockingham High School for their “Hands-on Market Economy Stations.” This tenth-grade project brought students with diverse abilities together for interactive experiences in economics and personal finance at three learning stations.
Third place in the high school division went to Callie Randolph for work done at Spotswood and East Rockingham high schools. Randolph’s project, “The Candy Trade & the Law of Demand,” taught key concepts in economics with multiple examples using candy.
An additional high school project, “Health Is Wealth: Pedometers Make ¢ents” by Amy Wheeler of Harrisonburg High School, did not place in the competition but received a Judges’ Award of Merit for its use of pedometer clicks to generate economic activities.
Beth Yelverton, librarian at Ottobine Elementary School, was separately recognized as the Shenandoah Region winner in student reading competition that was part of Reading Makes Cent$, a sponsored educational outreach by the Virginia 529 college savings plan.
Economic education locally is supported by Shenandoah Valley Economic Education Inc., a nonprofit organization that combines business and school contributions to fund the field work of the James Madison University Center for Economic Education.
Here’s a video that tells the story of the Summer Institute in Economics at James Madison University. It is SVEE’s sponsorship of the JMU teacher outreach program that makes this institute and its companion Institute in Personal Finance possible, in partnership with the Virginia Council on Economic Education and state funders.
The awards program coordinated by Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc., continues to generate excellent entries. For 2014, Bethany Everidge of Harrisonburg High School won the top prize statewide in the annual economic education awards competition sponsored by the Virginia Council on Economic Education. Everidge’s project was “Decision Making of the Future – 3 Hot’s and a Cot.” In this lesson, a diverse class learned the importance of long-term considerations in making current economic decisions. (“3 Hot’s and a Cot” refers to the accommodations in jail.)
Everidge was recognized at the local annual presentation at the Harrisonburg Rotary Club, which together with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce and SVEE, sponsors local competition.
In the local contest, Dawn Flora and Ann Komara of Ottobine Elementary School won the grand prize of $1000. Their winning project was “Painting Economic Principles Red, White and Blue.”
In the Ottobine project, students learned about active duty soldiers, veterans, and those who sustained injuries while serving. Flora and Komara’s students also formed a company manufacturing windsocks to raise money for a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project. The reserve grand prize went to Broadway High School’s Russell Kohrs for his natural resource economics project, “Riding Hubbert’s Curve: Finite Resources and their Implications for Society’s Future.”
Other local winners included:
Louise Pierson of John Wayland Elementary School, who won first place among elementary school entries with her project, “My Father’s Dragon: An Economic Tale.”
Kim Fawley and Allen J. Ruliffson of J. Frank Hillyard Middle School, who won first place in the middle school division for their project, “Like Economics for Chocolate.”
Janeen Dofflemyer of East Rockingham High School, who won first place in the high school division for “Gaming Your Way Through Economics.”
Elizabeth (Beth) Stombaugh-Hook of Harrisonburg High School, who won second place in the high school division for “Getting Creative with Financing the Government.”
The Harrisonburg Rotary Club has made a significant donation to Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc., from its 2013 charity golf tournament. SVEE was one of five local nonprofit organizations to receive allocations from the tournament proceeds. Jennifer Shirkey, outgoing Club president, made the $10,000 presentation on June 24. “Our children need to learn about market economics and its importance to prosperity just as they need to learn any other civics lesson,” said SVEE Board chair Jerry Scripture. “We, in the Valley, are blessed to have the support of educators and the business community to support that mission through Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc. Rotary’s continued support of that mission is terrific.”