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Educator Spotlight: Valerie Lomax, A Little Art Goes a Long Way in Financial Education

May 13, 2024 1:13 PM | Dawn Baker (Administrator)

Valerie Lomax

North Dorchester Middle

Dorchester County Public Schools

Valerie Lomax knows a thing or two about teaching financial concepts.

Valerie’s middle school students at North Dorchester Middle School have participated in MCEE’s “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” Poster Contest for over 20 years, and in almost every year, at least one of her students has been a winner. She was Dorchester County’s Teacher of the Year in 2011-2012; her video interview about teaching financial literacy was posted on the Maryland State Department of Education website.

And Valerie believes that financial education is especially important for her students living in the high-poverty county. “ I love to show my students that they can be in control of their future,” says Valerie. “No matter what their current situation is, the road ahead is in their hands.”

Valerie also appreciates how MCEE makes it easy to engage and excite students. “MCEE is wonderful,” notes Valerie, a middle school social studies teacher. “They give you everything you need and remind you what you need to do. Why doesn’t every teacher use a MCEE program in their classroom?”

Middle schools in Dorchester County are required to include a financial literacy unit in their social studies curriculum, and Valerie uses the MCEE Poster Contest to excite all her students, no matter their interest, background or style of learning. “It doesn’t feel like school work to them, “ she says. “Students who aren’t fond of writing can express their knowledge in an artistic form. Even those who don’t like art love to explain their poster to the class.”

Using MCEE’s prompts and hints to introduce financial words and phrases, Valerie shares the meaning and example of 10 terms. The class discusses each term and Valerie provides visual examples as she encourages each student to select the one that most interests them. Students then draw an illustration that explains the term and shares their posters with the class while explaining the meaning of the economic term.

“It’s a great way for kids to get started on understanding finances and economics,” says Valerie. “It’s not overwhelming. And it seems more important now than ever.”

Valerie’s current students remember the financial uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they share in class the conversations that take place at home about rising prices. “My hope is that through our financial units, students will gain the confidence to navigate through tough economic times. While they can’t change future economic conditions, they can use their knowledge and skills to make good decisions about their own financial future.”

Valerie has been teaching at North Dorchester for 30 years. When financial literacy was introduced into the curriculum, MCEE was the first place she went for resources and information, and. “they continue to be a resource for me and other teachers.” Beyond the Poster Contest, North Dorchester teachers have brought back an After School Stock Market Game Club and attended professional development workshops coordinated by MCEE.

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