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Oliver Elementary principal heads to stock market school

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Ron Boykins has not been to New York City in 18 years, since he was a captain in the U.S. Army. Then, he was passing through the Big Apple for a weekend.

Boykins's life has long since taken him out of the military and into the school house, ultimately leading him to become the principal at E.W. Oliver Elementary School. In December 2007, the school became the first Georgia school to ever take seven of the top 10 spots in the state Stock Market Game. Oliver repeated the feat in March of this year.

Now the Georgia Council on Economic Education is sending Boykins to Wall Street for a lesson in how the real stock market works.

The principal will leave Saturday and stay in New York City until July 18, spending six days soaking in everything about the stock market, so he can help his students defend their back-to-back state titles.

"We are going to create a link to tie what is taking place on Wall Street with what is taking place on Cheryl Leigh Drive in Riverdale," Boykins said.

During his trip to New York, Boykins and other educators from across the country will observe life on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, meet stock exchange officials, and participate in classes on how to deal with the stock market and different types of stocks.

He plans to take meticulous notes, several photographs, and audio and video recordings while he is at the New York Stock Exchange. All of that information will come back to Oliver so the school can find ways to turn itself into a miniature version of the stock exchange.

"He [Boykins] doesn't lack for energy or vision," said David Martin, executive director of the Georgia Council on Economic Education. "He knows what his goal is and he sticks with it."

The Georgia Council on Economic Education sends the advisors from the state champion every year to participate in the week-long work session. Boykins was supposed to be joined in New York by Mike Harrell, Oliver's after-school coordinator, but Harrell's wife recently gave birth and he did not want to leave her for a week.

Oliver students were introduced to the Stock Market Game during the 2006-07 school year as a tool to help improve their math skills. Students begin the 10-week game with $100,000 and they have to make the money grow by investing in public companies.

After seeing the large trophy Parkview High School received in 2007 for winning the game, Oliver officials knew they wanted to step up their game. They now begin each school year by coming up with a strategy to be one of the state's top performing schools.

"The kind of commitment we have to the stock market is the same kind of commitment Jonesboro High School has to its [two-time national champion] mock trial team," Boykins said.