Training teachers in finance

AT WORK

She develops curriculum and helps others educate Maryland's students in economics

July 02, 2008|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Mary Ann Hewitt

Executive director

Maryland Council on Economic Education, Towson

Salary : $72,000

Age : 61

Years on the job : Three

How she got started : Hewitt began her career as a teacher. She stopped working full time to raise her two children, but took on a part-time job training teachers in economics for the Maryland Council on Economic Education during the late 1980s. In 2003, she was promoted to assistant executive director of the organization. Two years later, she moved up to executive director.

Typical day : "Just about anything you can come up with," said Hewitt, who oversees a staff of three full-time and three part-time employees.

The organization works to improve economic and personal finance understanding among Maryland students. Hewitt works closely with curriculum supervisors in public school systems throughout Maryland to prepare teachers for educating students about economics and personal finance. She helps develop curriculum, resources, teacher training sessions and classroom materials.

Hewitt estimates that about 50 percent of her job is fundraising, but she also serves as the chief financial officer and works to promote the organization. She is often on the road traveling throughout Maryland and says she works about 55 hours in a normal week.

Training sessions : Can last up to one day and can include up to 100 teachers.

Her territory : The state of Maryland, which includes 24 school systems.

The tools : The group provides three programs to get kids interested in economics. The Stock Market Game, for grades four and higher, is an online simulation game that gives teams virtual cash to play the stock market. The economics concepts poster contest, for grades one through eight, offers students the chance to demonstrate their knowledge of an economic concept. The Maryland Economics Challenge, for high school students, is a competitive way to test knowledge of economics.

Changes over time : With schools becoming more assessment-driven, Hewitt said it is harder to promote specialty programs and get them into the curriculum.

Personal finance: Hewitt and her team are pushing for every school system in Maryland to require personal finance literacy as a graduation requirement. About 30 percent of the systems participate.

The good: "I love to teach. I love education. I like working with people."

The bad: "Paperwork and the things that have to be answered to keep an organization running. If you're in the office from 8 to 5, it's smoother than if you're out and about."

Advice to parents : Play the Stock Market Game with your kids. Also, help your child understand how to make informed economic and personal finance decisions. "Make a decision based on cost and benefits. Is what you're getting worth what you're giving up?"

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

Special to The Sun

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