By Curt Yeomans
Linda Mosley-Jones' interest in economics began a few year ago when gas prices surpassed $3 per gallon, and then $4 per gallon.
Mosley-Jones, who teaches second-graders at Church Street Elementary School in Riverdale, has also taken notice of the nation's foreclosure crisis, and the faltering economy. She said she decided to use the economics section of the Georgia Performance Standards teaching guidelines for her grade level to get her children to understand what was going on.
Her efforts, which have included turning her classroom into a miniature economic hub with "grocery" stores, a classroom store, and an economic word wall, led the Georgia Council on Economic Education to name Mosley-Jones as its 2009 Georgia Economics Teacher of the Year. The 18-year teaching veteran received the news from Church Street Principal Debra Smith earlier this month.
"I was pleasantly surprised," Mosley-Jones said. "I felt I could have won, but you never know what the other teachers are doing."
Mosley-Jones will be recognized by the Georgia Council on Economic Education during a May 13 luncheon, which will begin with a video presentation on the work she does with her students, according to a March 4 letter sent to the teacher by David Martin, the council's executive director.
"Your contributions to economic education in Georgia are valued highly, and we are delighted to be able to recognize you in this manner," Martin said in the letter.
Mosley-Jones has her students do several economics-themed activities, including breaking the classroom into two teams, to play a game of economic Tic-tac-toe, where each team gets to mark a spot on the playing board every time they correctly answer an economics question.
She also wrote two economics songs for her students to sing in class. One is about scarcity and supply and demand, set to the tune of "O Christmas Tree." The other is a song, set to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands," about living within one's means.
Mosley-Jones said her goal is to get students to understand what an economic system is, and the financial situations their parents are dealing with on a daily basis. She said she pulls inspiration for her activities from concepts in the state's performance standards, and the school system's economics curriculum book.
"I want them to be better life learners who are able to manage fiscal affairs," Mosley-Jones said.
Mosley-Jones also uses economics to keep discipline under control in her classroom. She gives "Kiddie Bucks" to students every time they follow classroom rules. The youths can use their "Kiddie Bucks" to purchase small items, like rulers, pens and pencils on Fridays. The students can also put their "Kiddie Bucks" into simulated safe deposit boxes so they will be available at a later date.
"Some of them don't want to spend a lot of money in case something big comes up later on," Mosley-Jones said.
Second-graders Karen Heng and Camera Gregg, both 8, and Ethan Voraotsady, 7, said they have learned several things about economics, such as the vocabulary involved in economics, and how purchasing works, through Mosley-Jones' activities in the classroom.
"We read books about economics and sometimes say the words, and we read the word wall," Heng said.
"She's taught us long words like 'producers' and 'consumers,'" Gregg said. Gregg said she wants to grow up and become an economist because of her teacher, so she can "teach other kids how to count money."
Voraotsady said he has learned about what is involved in buying items from a store. "When you're doing the cash register, you have to count the money to see how much money to give back," he said.
Clayton County Elementary Social Studies Coordinator Robert DeLuca said he was thrilled about Mosley-Jones being named the economics teacher of the year, and applauded her efforts to teach financial concepts to children using real-life events as examples.
"She's very dedicated, and she actually knows how to make rather sophisticated concepts appropriate for children," DeLuca said.