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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Dena Hillison August 3, 2020

Last summer, the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) at the University of Delaware welcomed almost 100 educators to UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics for the inaugural CEEE Economic Education Conference. This June, the CEEE was able to shift their programming to adjust for guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and hosted the second year of the conference with a free, one-day virtual program focused exclusively on economics for educators.

“The first annual conference was so well received that we wanted to make sure to offer it again this year,” said Carlos Asarta, director of the CEEE and UD professor of economics. “Delaware educators have been under tremendous pressure this past semester and deserve to be supported. The CEEE has been supporting educators for almost 50 years and our plan is to continue to do so for the next 50, regardless of the hurdles we encounter along the way.”

Throughout the day, attendees from Kent, New Castle and Sussex counties participated in six separate concurrent virtual sessions led by regional education experts and master teachers. These sessions covered topics related to each of the Delaware Economics Standards including microeconomics, macroeconomics, systems and trade. Educators left the conference with free teaching resources and ready-to-go lesson plans, along with the confidence needed to deliver them effectively in their classrooms—virtual or otherwise.

“Our conference is designed to cover the four Delaware Economics Standards,” said Scott Bacon, CEEE program coordinator. “Teachers will be able to walk away from it with new and relevant content and resources that will enhance their classroom teaching and benefit their students. Our mission is ‘to prepare K-12 educators… using standards-based professional learning, resources and programs.’ This conference checks all of those boxes.”

The conference keynote address, given by Luke Tilley, chief economist for Wilmington Trust, addressed topics ranging from how the coronavirus is affecting both individuals’ and businesses’ spending to the U.S. economy and fiscal and monetary policy.

“What does the post COVID economy look like?” Tilley asked during his address. “When we think about 2020, the key questions are: Do people return to the lives that they were living before, spending in the way that they spent before, or have those demand curves permanently shifted?

“Second, is the government going to provide more of those unemployment insurance benefits or more of those direct checks?” he continued. “I don’t have an opinion about that, but I’m waiting to find out because I [do] have opinions about how it will affect spending. And then lastly, when we think about the longer term and this debt that we have incurred to get through the crisis—like it or not—expect that it’s going to be with us here for a while. That’s really going to form a lot of the future decisions made about taxation, the structure of our economy and entirely too many other things to get at in one short presentation. Clearly a lot to think about.”

Each year, the CEEE Economic Education Conference welcomes not only Delaware K-12 teachers but also school and district department chairs and administrators and UD’s Master of Arts in Economics and Entrepreneurship for Educators (MAEEE) cohort.

“This year, I had the opportunity to both present and attend sessions, and this allowed me to catch a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes to orchestrate a successful event,” said Amy Krzyzanowski, an economics teacher at Delaware Military Academy and MAEEE candidate.

“This event is a great reminder that no matter how long you’ve been in the field of education, there is always something new to learn, another strategy to try or a fresh perspective to consider,” Krzyzanowski continued. “This conference helps me grow as an educator, and I always walk away with a plethora of new ideas and resources to implement in my classroom. I guess you could say the benefits of attending far outweigh the costs!”

During the conference, the CEEE also presents the Bonnie T. Meszaros Economic Educator of the Year Award. 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. This year’s winner is Margaret Brady, a second-grade teacher at Richey Elementary.

“Maggie is a teacher’s teacher,” said Meszaros, associate director of the CEEE. “Second-grade teachers are uneasy teaching economics. But, after the teachers train with Maggie, they leave knowing they too can teach economics to young children. Maggie is passionate about teaching economics starting at an early age and recognizes the importance of laying the groundwork in the early grades to help her students make informed economic choices and gain a better understanding of their economic world.”

“I would like to thank my students,” Brady noted after thanking Meszaros, the CEEE, colleagues and her family during her acceptance speech. “I save them for last because it’s emotional for me to think about them right now. I very much owe this award, this honor, to them. They are always so excited to learn about economics and, initially, one might think that the subject of economics may not be at the top of a second graders’ list of interests, but their attitudes always amaze me. I know that our students with their skill sets, including and especially their knowledge of economics, will build a better future.”

The CEEE plans to host the CEEE Economic Education Conference annually, in whatever format is necessary, in order to continue to support economic education throughout Delaware.

“I’ve already cleared my calendar for next year!” Krzyzanowski said. “This is one of the most beneficial professional developments I’ve attended in my 11-year career. I’d recommend this conference to all teachers, from novice to veteran. You will absolutely leave reinvigorated and excited to try out new strategies in your classroom.”