Dec 2015 Center Link

GEM Fair gets new sponsor: Thanks, Union Bank & Trust!

Union_logo_2c_354_k_pUnion Bank & Trust is now the presenting sponsor of the Global Entrepreneurship Marketplace Fair (GEM Fair). Held each year at James Madison University, the GEM Fair brings together Mini-Economics from throughout the area for a simulated international marketplace.

“We very much appreciate the sponsorship and the financial boost it will bring to this event,” said Dr. William C. Wood, director of the JMU Center for Economic Education.

March 9, 2016 is now set as the date of the next GEM Fair presented by Union Bank & Trust. The venue for 2016 is JMU’s Festival Conference Center. The day will include a Roll Call of the Mini-Economy nations, market session, and an awards ceremony.

For more information on the next GEM Fair, contact Lynne Stover at (540) 568-3248 or send email.

Kohrs wins top state award

kohrs-smallRussell Kohrs of the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School has won the top prize in the open state economic education awards competition sponsored by the Virginia Council on Economic Education.

The winning project was “Concentrating on Copper: An Exploration in Mineral Commodities,” developed at Broadway High School. This project combined earth science principles and economic concepts to show students the importance of finite resources.

Since completing the project at Broadway, Kohrs has joined the faculty of the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School for Environmental Science and Technology in Mt. Jackson.

Kohrs will be recognized at a December 11 presentation in Richmond.

The Kohrs project had earlier won the grand prize in local competition sponsored by the Harrisonburg Rotary Club and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.

Spring workshop series set

A wide variety of workshops will be available this spring from the Center for Economic Education at JMU. Topics range from financial literacy to economics in children’s literature. Each workshop features materials and instruction that coordinate with the Virginia Standards of Learning. Registration is free and materials are free. When you participate, you receive a certificate with details of topics and hours for your recertification. For details and registration now: go straight to the workshop page.

Common Sense Economics set for March 21

Common Sense EconomicsA day-long workshop set for March 21 at the Ice House in Harrisonburg will introduce participants to the highly acclaimed Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity. Participants will learn how to use the book and associated instructional package to improve the teaching of economics at any level. At you can preview the entire package: electronic resources, quality supplements, economic examples, quick links to cool stuff, and information on a full multi-media course package that can be used in a seated or online setting. The presenters are nationally known economic educators Tawni Hunt Ferrarini and Mark Schug. The workshop runs 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and includes lunch and free materials. You may register now at this link.

Special note: Common Sense Economics is especially valuable to Virginia teachers because, unlike similar books, it includes a section on personal finance that covers such topics as budgeting, saving and investing.

Stover presents at state, national conferences

JMU’s Lynne F. Stover presented her work on teaching economics through literature at state and national conferences this fall. At the joint meeting of the Council for Economic Education and National Association of Economic Educators in St. Petersburg, Florida in October, she teamed up with Virginia colleagues Barbara Haynes and Rebecca Booth to present a session on literary heroines.

“Heroines like Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre faced tough choices in a society that dictated many of their financial possibilities. Actively working through those choices helps students understand the characters while improving their grasp of economic concepts,” Stover said.

Stover also presented this fall at the Virginia Council for the Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies and the Virginia Association for the Gifted.

Allen Ruliffson honored with national economic education award

ruliffsonAllen J. Ruliffson, who teaches seventh grade social studies at J. Frank Hillyard Middle School, has received the highest award given for middle school teaching of economic content by the Council for Economic Education.

Ruliffson was named the 2015 winner of the Council’s middle school John Morton Excellence in the Teaching of Economics Award.

Ruliffson, a past winner of local and state competitions, was encouraged to enter the competition by Lynne F. Stover of the James Madison University Center for Economic Education. “Allen has consistently done excellent work that makes economics real for the middle school population,” Stover said.

“This recognition reflects that teacher excellence makes a difference, and your project exemplifies the importance of economic and financial education as critical to students’ future success,” said Council Vice President Gwen Pajotte in notifying Ruliffson of his winning entry.

In support of his application, Ruliffson submitted material on career accomplishments in economic education, along with a local award-winning lesson plan, “Barracuda Barrel,” that used a “Shark Tank”-like competition among students to teach economic history.

Ruliffson was recognized in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the October meeting of the Council for Economic Education and the National Association of Economic Educators.

The award includes a $1000 check and the trip to St. Petersburg, where Ruliffson shared best practices with colleagues in a session coordinated by the Council.

The awards criteria call for nominees to “exhibit innovative approaches to economic and financial education using multiple teaching approaches.” “Allen’s work does all that and more,” Stover said.

Ruliffson’s previous prize-winning work included lesson plans and entire economics units that combined in-class instruction, field trips and technology projects. One entry took a traditional year-end field trip to Hershey Park and turned it into a multi-disciplinary learning project.

Ruliffson’s previous work has included solo projects and team projects. “Barracuda Barrel” was done jointly with Hillyard teacher Kim Fawley and technology resource teacher Alice Blair.

“Allen’s work shows how much seventh graders can learn when sound economics is combined with excellent presentation,” said Jerry Scripture, board chair of Shenandoah Valley Economic Education Inc. SVEE provides funding for a comprehensive economic education program locally.

Charter school effects studied

JMU’s Dr. William C. Wood and coauthors have had a paper on the effects of charter schools accepted for publication by the Atlantic Economic Journal. The paper showed that in Arizona, an early state for charter schools, salaries of school superintendents were adjusted by school boards in response to charter competition. The adjustments were complex, but generally showed a willingness to increase salaries as charter schools became more widespread. (Charter schools are publicly funded but independent schools set up under an operating agreement, or charter, with a governmental authority. They represent a hybrid model of public and private schooling.) The title of the paper is “Education Reform and School Leadership: Did Initial Charter Penetration Influence Superintendent Salaries in Arizona?” Wood wrote with Dr. Scott Milliman of the JMU Department of Economics and Dr. Robert Maranto of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.


The JMU Center for Economic Education’s teacher outreach program is a sponsored program of Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that seeks to promote economic literacy and understanding of the free enterprise system in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


The JMU Center for Economic Education is an affiliate of the Virginia Council on Economic Education.



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