Worcester County Public Schools
Kurt Marx, Business Teacher at Stephen Decatur High School in Worcester County, starts conversations about personal finance with his students by asking questions: 1) How many of you want to be millionaires? (hands fly up) 2) How much do you think you need to save a month, at a 12% return, to become one by the time you’re my age? “When students hear that what they need to save a month isn’t thousands, but rather just $100, they are shocked and interested,” said Kurt. “I stress the importance of personal finance and then reveal wealth’s accessibility. It engages students right away - especially those who may have never experienced this kind of thinking or known about these opportunities growing up.”
For more than 20 years, Kurt has been introducing students to personal finance in a fun and competitive learning environment that emphasizes the accessibility of financial success. In the process, he is introducing students to opportunities, jobs, and financial aspirations they may not otherwise experience growing up in a rural, low-income community. By guiding students in MCEE’s Stock Market Game™, thePersonal Finance Challenge, and the Economics Challenge, and by relating personal finance concepts to their interests, Kurt is changing the trajectories of his students’ futures, with many taking new paths and setting new goals as a result.
Like its work with all educators, MCEE partners with Kurt to ensure he has support and access to meaningful student learning experiences in personal finance and economics. “If we can get students involved in something they view as fun, they're significantly more likely to take something from it,” he explained. “These competitions do exactly that.”
Every semester, Kurt guides multiple student teams in the Stock Market Game™. Many have won state and regional championships. He dedicates daily class time for students to collaborate, research, and discuss their investment ideas. From there, the lessons come naturally. “We’re exploring companies, reading news, and examining how athletes spend money,” said Kurt. “Students are asking each other how things like war or inflation might impact stock prices. I don’t give them answers - I support them as they find their way toward the truth. Their enthusiasm is impossible to miss. MCEE’s programs and guidance of educators helps make this happen.”
From what Kurt has heard from parents, this enthusiasm extends beyond the classroom. “I heard from a parent that their child may not love going to school except for my class,” beamed Kurt. “Another told me she saw her son watching CNBC and researching stocks at night. It was the first time she’s seen her child passionate about something related to school. She was so proud.”
Kurt believes the Stock Market Game™ should be infused into all subjects. “No matter the class you’re teaching - from math to social studies - the game can apply. It encourages students to take in the world around them, to think critically, and to explore. No matter the subject, it encourages curiosity and learning.”
MCEE’s resources and professional development experiences - from lesson plans and curriculum aligned trainings to classroom activities - give educators the tools and understanding to apply personal finance concepts to a variety of academic subjects. “Learning experiences like these is what makes MCEE’s support so valuable,” said Marx. “With MCEE’s guidance, we’re teaching kids that they don't have to take big risks to be wealthy.”