Lauren Shifflett of Elkton Elementary School has won the John Morton Award for 2021 as the most outstanding elementary economic educator nationally. John Morton Awards are given annually by the Council for Economic Education in elementary, middle and high school categories.

As the winner, Lauren receives $1000 and will address her colleagues nationally on classroom technique at the “Award-Winning Teachers Share Best Practices” session of the Council’s annual convention on October 1.

The award honors consistent use of exemplary teaching techniques rather than any one project.

Members of the Harrisonburg Rotary Club will remember the day in 2019 when Lauren charmed everyone present with a description of her local grand prize-winning project, “Shifflett Superville: Soaring Together.” In that project first graders learned basic economic concepts by building a city and its market institutions with a superhero theme. Lauren addressed the club together with two of her superhero students, who were present with their masks and capes.

Lauren was nominated for the award by John Kruggel, who coordinates teacher outreach and training locally for Your Economic Success (YES).

YES promotes economic and financial literacy in the Shenandoah Valley.

YES’s teacher outreach is a sponsored program of the James Madison University Center for Economic Education, where Kruggel serves as Associate Director for Program.

2019 award winner

With the help of resources from YES, a classic economic education video series from the Shenandoah Valley has been restored from VHS cassettes. Now made available on YouTube, “Money Matters: The Role of Money in an Economy,” features exemplary Shenandoah Valley teachers. It premiered at Harrisonburg’s Court Square Theater in 2000 and was distributed statewide by the Virginia Department of Education.

With VHS technology becoming obsolete, YES arranged to restore the video and upload it to YouTube for free use for any educational purpose. Downloadable .PDF teacher resources were also recovered (links below). The 50-minute video has been separated into its five segments, each featuring a different teacher:

1. Series introduction and Dennis Durost’s money lessons (kindergarten)

2. Sue Haley’s Oobleck factory (1st grade)

3. Yvette Weaver’s Mini-Society (3rd grade)

4. Andrea Freeland’s Reality Check (4th grade)

5. Andrea Nolley’s Money in the Community (5th grade), ending with production credits

A companion set of materials, developed by James Madison University’s William C. Wood, is still available in two downloadable .PDF teacher’s guides:

Original production was overseen by Teresa Harris of JMU’s College of Education. Videography and editing were done by Jeffrey Butler. The entire enterprise was funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Education.

YES’s new video series “Home Front Economics” was one of the topics of discussion in the national podcast by the National Association of Economic Educators that went live December 17. The video series helps parents and students learn at home, using household items to illustrate concepts in economics and personal finance. Also mentioned was our collaboration with the Explore More Discovery Museum to bring a personal finance exhibit and supporting materials to the museum. Here’s a link to the entire podcast:

Parents and kids are spending a lot of time learning at home these days. Wednesdays can be a problem in some schools’ “AB” schedules. But here’s an exciting way for parents and kids to learn economics at home — Home Front Economics!

Each video introduces an economic topic and then invites you to pause the playback and explore something in your home together. Then hit “play” again and see the wrapup that reinforces economic content.

On each video we have two elementary schoolkids and two economic educators modeling the activity. Running time is 5 to 10 minutes. Exploration can take you as far as you’d like.

Here’s the first one — have a look!