Benjamin Tasker Middle
Prince George's County Public Schools
Kevin Cromer, a teacher at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Prince George’s County, began one of his lessons with a look at the news. He scrolled online through stories until he saw one about student loan forgiveness. That was the impetus for mock-debates and discussions with his students about loans.The learning progression for students was simple and natural, and that made it impactful. “First, we discussed why people take out loans,” explained Kevin. “This naturally led the discussion toward savings, which then fed right into talking about investing. After that, we began MCEE’s Stock Market Game™ and Investwrite, and students really took off with it.”
This inquiry-based approach in an AVID Class - a college and career readiness elective - reflects Kevin’s teaching style during his 29 year career; he identifies something relevant to students, turns it into a discussion point, and encourages their questions and ideas to drive home lessons. Students take AVID every other day, where they explore critical thinking, inquiry, and self-advocacy. By going a step further and incorporating MCEE resources, Kevin’s students will be ahead in terms of personal finance, which is now a mandatory course for high school graduation in Prince George's County Public Schools.
And MCEE’s guidance and resources support Kevin’s process through fun student activities, detailed background information, and helpful prompts. “This learning is crucial. When I was growing up, we didn’t learn about financial literacy,” he explained. “We’re now helping students build skills and habits that will stick with them for life.” I teach students about managing money by making plans for their college expenses. They learn to figure out what college will cost, research how much things will cost, and create a budget for how to spend their money.”
Inspired by their personal finance education, some of Kevin’s students opened savings accounts during class. Others shared their experiences learning about personal finance with their families. “I’ve had parents tell me how their child is excited to learn more and how they’re watching news and doing research on their own.” Students aren’t the only ones learning through MCEE’s programs. Said Kevin, “I didn’t know much about the stock market when getting started, but MCEE changed that. They answer questions, visit classrooms, and guide teachers every step of the way with lesson plans, videos and workshops.”
Kevin has also taken advantage of the class field trip opportunity offered by MCEE in partnership with the Towson University CBE. The field trip includes a visit to the Finance Lab on the TU campus where students learn about compound interest and investment research in a simulated wall street trading floor experience. To assist his students with synthesizing what they have learned about personal finance and investing, Kevin encouraged his students to submit essays for the InvestWrite writing competition. One of his students submitted an essay that won first prize in the State of Maryland! Read the essay here. This year, he hopes to turn the Stock Market Game™ into an after school program.
“Go for it,” advises Kevin. “Even if you feel like you don’t know enough as a teacher, don’t be nervous. MCEE is there to help; take their courses, access their resources. You don’t need to be an expert to have success.”