Anne Arundel County Public Schools
When it comes to learning, there just aren’t enough hours in the day! But that’s no problem for Karen Yancey, 3rd grade teacher at Marley Elementary School in Anne Arundel County. Whether during the school day or after, Karen is working with students to build their understanding of personal finance that will enable them to make good financial decisions throughout their lives.
During the pandemic, Karen noticed that personal finance and economics education was not being covered in traditional elementary and middle school curricula. So she created an after-school program to change that!
Partnering with MCEE, Karen now guides 4th and 5th grade students in playing the Stock Market Game once a week after school. Three times as many students now attend the program, dubbed the Stock Market Club, compared to when it was started two years ago!
“Kids are so curious and interested,” beamed Karen. “Many of my students have not had the opportunity to learn this content, and they get so excited - discussing stocks as they walk down the hallway, coming in daily with new questions and new research. Being exposed to this content, and this forward thinking, at a young age helps students build good habits and financial understanding. It’s a huge deal.”
Karen’s students even bring stories of their experiences at home to discuss in school. “If a grandma visits one of my students, we discuss where they went to eat, how much it cost, what companies are benefiting, and whether they have stocks worth exploring. They even bring questions or ideas their parents may have into the classroom for discussion.” In the process, students build valuable skills like research, long-term planning, creative thinking, math, and making connections between disparate ideas.
Karen regularly seeks out MCEE’s resources, incorporating Stock Market Game lessons, attending the annual Summit to engage with fellow educators, and even hitting the road with her students to visit the Towson University Finance Lab - an experience coordinated by MCEE. Next semester, she’ll be working with MCEE to incorporate into her teaching the children’s book Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade, which is available through MCEE to educators across Maryland.
“Any time I reach out to MCEE, they’re there for me, providing information and resources that make my job easier,” said Karen. “For many of my students, the Towson trip was the first time being on a college campus. A bunch of them kept saying they would go to Towson after high school on the way home!”
A teacher for the last seven years, Karen understands the value of learning with her students. “In some ways, the less you think you know as a teacher, the better you are. That way, you're learning right there with the children - applying their interests to financial concepts and considerations. We look things up together and I give them ownership of finding their answers. The ah-ha moments happen every day!”
Karen has some simple advice for teachers interested in delivering personal finance and economics education to their students. “Don't be afraid to dive in and do this, regardless of how much you know. Lean on experts like MCEE and see the power of learning together with your students.”