Union Elementary first grade teacher Juanita Harris received the Bessie B. Moore Award for her Everyday Economics: Earn Money, Spend Money, Learn Economics project “Economics is such an integral part of people’s lives and understanding economics is critical in helping children comprehend the modern world and make decisions that shape the future,” Harris commented.
The award recognizes teachers who go above and beyond what is required by developing outstanding economic and personal finance projects they integrate in the classroom. When Bessie B. Moore was in charge at the newly formed Arkansas Council on Economic Education in 1962, she was almost 60 years old and had earned impressive credentials. To many friends, admirers, and supporters, she was simply known as somebody “who was doing good things for the State of Arkansas.” Just as Bessie B. Moore, Ms. Harris says she is doing what she believes is good for her students and the community.
Harris believes that the future of her students, the future of the economy, and our democracy depends on students possessing the ability to make informed decisions and education economics shows them how to do that. Ms. Harris’ first grade students assume real-world responsibilities as they enter her classroom. “It is fascinating to see the students calculating their income, paying their bills, and shopping for items in their classroom store,” stated Union principal Lekia Jones. “Each student has a role in their world of economics and the learning that is taking place in the classroom is phenomenal.” The students work within the classroom and throughout the school. For their labor, the students earn income. With their income, each student must take care of their weekly financial responsibilities, as taxpayers and law abiding, productive citizens. The Everyday Economics project affords students the opportunity to practice the order in which they should budget their incomes as financially capable adults. “Students are not allowed to shop at their leisure until they have paid their living expenses,” says Harris. “They learn the extremely important lesson of saving for the future.” Ms. Harris, along with other educators across the state, will receive recognition on Wednesday, November 15, in the Great Hall at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Help support Ms. Harris’ project by donating supplies and items for students to purchase – www.donorschoose.org/Ms.J.I.Harris