Riverview economics teacher honored with state award
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 12:36 a.m.
Riverview School District teacher Dena Huselton has proved teaching economics isn't a textbook case but an exercise in real life.
Huselton of Harmar received the Sophia Zacharias Award in Excellence in Teaching Economics.
The award, which recognizes Huselton's teaching abilities, is given by EconomicsPennsylvania, a nonprofit that promotes financial literacy to teachers and their students. She received the honor in Pittsburgh last month at the Adam Smith Distinguished Leadership Award Dinner.
Huselton has been teaching in local schools for 30 years, including 12 at Riverview. Before that, she taught at the Newport Business Institute in Lower Burrell. She earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and education from Robert Morris University and a master's degree in education from Penn State University.
“Dena knows what she is doing when she is teaching economics and financial literacy,” said Lora Spence, who nominated Huselton for the award.
Spence is a field consultant for the EconomicsPennsylvania Center for Economic Education at the University of Pittsburgh and an instructor in Pitt's department of economics.
“She knows how to connect to the lives of her students,” Spence said.
It's the Stock Market Game that brings home the economic concepts, according to Huselton.
EconomicsPennsylvania sponsors the Stock Mark Game, which gives students in grades four through 12 a fictional $100,000 to buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Huselton offers the game twice a year to her students at Riverview, where seniors are required to complete an economics course.
“That goes to show how classy Riverview School District is,” Spence said. “There are only 14 states that require economics and financial literacy for students, and Pennsylvania is not one of them.”
For the Stock Market Game, students buy stocks and financial interests that are a part of their lives.
“They might buy all Yahoo stock and crash miserably,” Spence said. “And they will have to describe the kinds of mistakes they made and what they learned.”
Although the stock ownership isn't real, the economics exercise is very real.
“We want to bring a real-life situation into our classroom,” said Huselton.
When the market crashed in 2008-09, the students had never experienced anything like it, she said.
The recent holiday season was a time to have the students check out the end-of-year economic indicators.
“What's happening with retail? What's happening with consumer spending?” asked Huselton.
“Teenagers don't often pay attention to that but when it's in our faces now,” she said. “And that makes for nice discussion for class.
“The Stock Market Game brings that home. And it's something that they will have to know about at some point in their careers.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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