Delaware Economic Educators Conference

Carlos Asarta (far right) and Bonnie T. Meszaros (center) celebrate Veronica Marine, winner of the inaugural Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award.

In over 45 years of operation, the University of Delaware’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) has been making a significant impact on economic education in Delaware through programs like the Meaningful Economics Competition, the Economic Forecast, professional development programming and many more. This June, for the first time, the CEEE expanded their programming to include the CEEE Economic Education Conference.

This conference is the first of its kind in Delaware, bringing approximately 100 educators to the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics for a free one-day program focused exclusively on economics for educators. The conference welcomed Delaware social studies teachers, school and district department chairs and administrators and the new UD Master of Arts in Economics and Entrepreneurship for Educators (MAEEE) cohort of 30 students. Special guests included Andrew Hill, economic education officer at Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and keynote speaker Paul Solman, PBS NewsHour correspondent. Additionally, CEEE presented the inaugural Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award.

Sharing Positive Outcomes

“The main thing I would like to get out of this today is to learn how I can be helpful to you,” said Solman, beginning his keynote address through videotelephony. “I consider it the highest achievement that I personally can have in this world [to be] used in and, therefore, useful in classrooms around the country and even the world.”

With this objective in mind, Solman spent the remainder of his keynote address answering questions from the educators ranging from, “what types of occupations do you see becoming available in technology?” to “how would you teach supply to students, if not graphically?” to specific questions about his existing videos on economics.

One of the conclusions that Solman said he was taking away from this conference was that teachers really want student resources that are more positive and productive when discussing the conclusions and future of economics. He plans to create more videos focused on what students can do to be successful in the economy rather than focused on the problems that they will face.

Practical Application through Workshops

“I spent 11 years at the University of Delaware where I got three degrees…it’s always really great to be back here,” said Hill, who earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in economics from the Lerner College. “As Delawareans you are in one of the best places in the entire United States, maybe in the world, in economic education because you have what is arguably the best center for economic education in the world. I am always very unabashed at saying that… and I should probably mention that my views are entirely my own and not those of the Federal Reserve.”

Hill led the attendees through three interactive lessons from the Federal Reserve. The goal of these lessons was to help to make difficult economic concepts more tangible for students. Throughout the workshop, the educators engaged in active elements within the lessons. Hill answered the educators’ questions and showed them how to implement these lessons in their own classrooms. Hill then shared resources available from both the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and other reserve banks that the educators could access for additional materials.

“In my experience, any time you can create simulations with real interactions for students in the classroom, even under some constraints, it helps the students internalize what they’re learning so much better,” said Megan Kirts, a high school economics teacher from Tuscon, AZ and MAEEE student. “Hands-on, interactive activities are always a big hit with students, not just because it’s fun, but because those are the things they remember and they take away that lesson for the long-term.”

In addition to Hill’s workshop, conference attendees were able to participate in four of six workshops led by CEEE faculty and MAEEE graduates. These workshops provided the educators with full lessons covering economic concepts from “fake news and economics” to “who determines wage rates?” that could be immediately implemented in their classrooms.

“Everything was extremely helpful,” said Crystal Johnson, a high school social studies teacher from Maple Grove in Minnesota and first year MAEEE student. “I really liked the microeconomics and macroeconomics review games. I’m going to use those myself to review for my college classes! I really like to do active lessons, so anything where the kids can move or play or discuss or talk is really good.”

Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award

A highlight of the conference was the presentation of the inaugural Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award. This award was created in honor of Meszaros, associate director of the CEEE, for her over 45 years of service to the CEEE and economic education in Delaware.

“Bonnie’s mentoring and feedback have been invaluable not only to me but also to the thousands of teachers who have been privileged to receive her instruction here in Delaware, nationally and internationally,” said Carlos Asarta, professor of economics and director of the CEEE, while presenting the award. “Watching her give a lecture is like watching an artist develop her next masterpiece. Simply put, she is one of the best, if not the best, in our profession.”

“I’m honored to be the first recipient of the Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award,” said Veronica Marine, business teacher at Middletown High School in her acceptance speech. “I’d like to thank the CEEE for the amazing programs they provide for students and for teachers. They are a great group to work with, their whole team, and they are very encouraging…Finally, I’d like to thank Dr. Bonnie Meszaros.”

The annual award recognizes one Delaware teacher who demonstrates a sustained history of commitment and contribution to economic education. The nominees are evaluated based on their teaching, professional learning and economic program development.

“Veronica has touched the lives of so many students through her persistent dedication and passion for financial education,” said Mario Tiberi, social studies specialist for Appoquinimink School District, when nominating Marine for this award. “She is an inspiration for teachers and students alike. I am happy to be able to learn from and work alongside Mrs. Veronica Marine here in the Appoquinimink School District for all of the reasons that I have stated above.”

Conference Impact

In his concluding remarks, Asarta encouraged the attendees to use the multiplier effect to “take what you learn here and bring it back and share it with other teachers at your school.”

Educators left the conference with free teaching resources and lessons from the CEEE, the Federal Reserve and other experts, ready for immediate application in their classrooms. The CEEE plans to host the CEEE Economic Education Conference every year to continue to impact economic education throughout Delaware.

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