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Cromwell Valley Elementary teacher wins financial education award

Florence Falatko, a fifth-grade teacher at Cromwell Valley Elementary, is being honored by the CASH Campaign of Maryland and the Maryland Financial Education and Capability Commission for combining math with financial education.
Florence Falatko, a fifth-grade teacher at Cromwell Valley Elementary, is being honored by the CASH Campaign of Maryland and the Maryland Financial Education and Capability Commission for combining math with financial education.(Courtesy Photo/BCPS / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A Cromwell Valley Elementary Magnet School teacher is one of six people or organizations to be recognized this year by the CASH Campaign of Maryland and the Maryland Financial Education and Capability Commission. It is the seventh annual presentation of awards.

Florence Falatko, a former hedge fund manager, teaches fifth graders using practical examples – such as mock stock portfolios to learn decimals and designing blueprints for dream houses to learn geometry. In 2018, she won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

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“Financial education in our schools from as early as kindergarten all the way through high school and college will help us to raise a financially literate society,” Falatko said in an email. “Financial education needs to be repetitive and sustainable. This means activities around this topic must transcend from year to year to help the children understand the importance of financial literacy.”

At Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technologyall students participate in a virtual economy, where they have jobs, earn salaries and have to “pay rent.” Some students also manage a mock stock portfolio using real-time trading information.

Falatko’s award from the CASH Campaign notes her “being a leader in financial education in elementary schools and infusing it not only in schools but in training other teachers in the field of financial education.”

Ambus Hunter, a Parkville resident, was also honored by the CASH Campaign for being a volunteer, providing over 100 hours as a financial educator and promoting financial education and counseling across Maryland.

The other awardees from the Maryland CASH Campaign are Charles Emerson, a middle school teacher in Baltimore City; Austin Hill, a high school teacher in Harford County; Bank on Gaithersburg, an organization in Montgomery County that provides access to low-cost bank accounts and financial counseling; and the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, a statewide advocacy group that pushes policies to protect low-to-moderate income Marylanders “from predatory practices that affect their finances.”

“The educators honored are equipping students with the skills and knowledge to make informed financial decisions, manage money, and build wealth,” State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said in a statement. "Our students are more financially literate because of the commitment of these educators.”

Each of the award winners receives $1,000, sponsored by the Maryland Council on Economic Education and the Woodside Foundation.

Last year, Mike Martin, a teacher at Lansdowne High School who oversaw the school’s Academy of Finance program, won the award.

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