Conference helps educators teach financial literacy

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com James Wilcox, director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, shows teachers how to pull up stock information online.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
James Wilcox, director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, shows teachers how to pull up stock information online.

By Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Young adults can quickly find themselves in crippling debt if they are not careful.

That is why Julia Smith wants to teach her students more about financial responsibility in her seventh- and eighth-grade Excel Technology class at Tupelo Middle School.

“If you are educated about it and you know how to get a good start, you won’t have to worry about getting out of debt,” Smith said.

Hoping to better incorporate those principles into her classroom, Smith joined 53 other teachers at the “Focus on the Economy” summer conference for educators. The event began Wednesday and continues today at the BancorpSouth Conference Center in Tupelo. It is sponsored by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis.

The MCEE has hosted a similar summer conference for about the past 10 years, but this is the first time it was in Tupelo. The organization’s goal is to provide education in three areas: economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship.

“We believe the best way to make sure our children are educated in those areas is to provide education for our teachers,” said MCEE President Selena Swartzfager. “We can train a teacher once, and they can reach those students year after year.”

The conference is for kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, who divide into three groups: elementary, middle school and high school. They will attend several one-hour sessions during the conference. Smith said she learned about the stock market and about supply and demand, including an activity she could use for her students.

Teresa Jones, who teaches Information and Communication Technology-2 at Armstrong Middle School in Starkville, learned some game components for lessons. The ICT curriculum recently expanded to include finance, she said, and she was seeking more training on the subject.

“I’m looking for new ideas,” she said.

This week’s attendees will receive more than $500 of curriculum they can take back to their classrooms, Swartzfager said. That includes lessons that can be used in math, social studies, business or English classes, among others.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com