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Teaching Economics in Arkansas

Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography | Shot on location at Stephens Elementary School

   After nearly four decades as an educator, Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore plans to retire later this spring. His vision for Arkansas students includes a pragmatic approach to knowledge that empowers a generation of fiscally responsible civic leaders. Economics Arkansas is an invaluable partner to teachers across the state – providing training + resources to implement practical economic lessons to students. At the heart of the organization’s unique mission is a belief that financial literacy is universally applicable because young people will lead the marketplace. 

   These shared ideals blend seamlessly into Mike’s professional tenure and cultivate a brighter future for all Arkansans. As president of Economics Arkansas Board of Directors, Mike will welcome friends and colleagues to the Leadership in Free Enterprise Award Luncheon later this month. The afternoon will celebrate the continued mission fulfillment work of Economics Arkansas – 60 years strong – as well as individuals who represent the values + fundamentals of the organization.  

   Mike was introduced to Economics Arkansas when he arrived in Northwest Arkansas as superintendent of the Bentonville School District. “It did not take me long to understand that this was just smart business and great for our students. The organization makes financial literacy something that is meaningful and relevant to students,” he elaborates. Each year, more than 5,000 teachers share economic and personal finance principles in the classroom with students of all ages. This method of learning develops transferable skills including sound decision-making, budgeting, saving and investing. “The activities that Economics Arkansas provides directly enhance and support learning for students,” Mike explains. “This happens via exposure to The Stock Market Game™ and through the training of teachers who create more real-life lessons that tie content standards into financial literacy.” 

   The Stock Market Game™ is one of the most effective and popular Economics Arkansas educational initiatives. This investment, simulation competition for students, grades 4th – 12th across the state, is comprised of teams that invest a hypothetical $100,000 portfolio “live” in the U.S. securities market. Arkansas leads the nation in the number of students participating per capita with approximately 10,000 students annually. Economics Arkansas Executive Director Kathleen Lawson explains, “Economics is about choices, incentives and consequences. Oftentimes people think economics is just about money, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about real life, and how the decisions we make can shape future outcomes. Our hope is that this understating will help students be more productive, intentional, engaged adults.” Mike adds, “If taught properly, financial literacy actually becomes fun and students gain foundational knowledge that sticks with them for their life.” 

   These opportunities are made possible through the unwavering commitment of individuals and companies that invest in the future of Arkansas. The Arkansas Bankers Association and Tommy May will be recognized at the Leadership in Free Enterprise Award Luncheon. Economics Arkansas Associate Director Marsha Masters notes, “Partnerships are resource multipliers. During Mr. Poore’s tenure, partnering with the Little Rock School District has significantly increased the amount of teachers and students we have been able to serve.” Mike remains deeply devoted to the children of Arkansas and the beauty of the Natural State. “It has everything for which one could hope – most importantly, amazing people,” he reflects. “I believe that if students have a depth of understanding of personal finance, as well as an understanding of economic concepts, they become adults who are more empowered to be productive and to allow them to meet their own goals and dreams.”

Inviting Arkansas

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