Local students learn the financial literacy ropes

Local students learn the financial literacy ropes
A high school student asks BGE CEO Calvin Butler, seated center with microphone, a question at the Maryland Council on Economic Education’s financial literacy for youth awards luncheon. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Fretz)

The Maryland Council on Economic Education’s celebrated financial literacy for youth at an awards luncheon, held on May 15 at the SECU Arena at Towson University.

About 350 teachers and students from across Maryland were in attendance at the event—winners from the council’s most popular programs: the Stock Market Game, Economic & Personal Finance Challenge, InvestWrite, and Economic & Personal Finance Concepts Poster Contest (learn more about all the programs at


Keynote speaker Calvin Butler, CEO of Baltimore Gas and Electric, discussed his own career path, underscoring the importance of financial knowledge for lifelong success, and led a fireside chat and Q&A.

“In addition to encouraging economic education, we place high value on rewarding and celebrating the success of Maryland’s students,” said Mary Ann Hewitt, the council’s executive director. “The luncheon provides an opportunity for students to celebrate their hard work with their classmates, teachers, families and friends.”

Loyola Blakefield ranked first in the spring 2019 Stock Market Game. Math teacher Gayle Smith and students Sean Cannon, Jason Carroll, and Garrett Mobley are to be commended for their investing success.

Other Baltimore County Stock Market Game winning teams hailed from Stemmers Run Middle, Franklin High and Owings Mills Elementary. Teams from Lansdowne High and Mount Saint Joseph were recognized for achievement in the Personal Finance Challenge. And a Garrison Forest team was awarded for its InvestWrite program.

In the Stock Market Game, teams of 3-5 students in grades 4-12 are given virtual money to invest, then research current events and the intricate global economy to make sound personal finance decisions in real time. They quickly catch on to how complex relationships impact the stock market.

“I guarantee you there are students today discussing trade wars and tariffs and how they affect our economy,” Hewitt said, adding that recently students researched Boeing to help their predictions.

Additionally, the Maryland Council on Economic Education gives students the opportunity to visit the T. Rowe Price Finance Lab. More than 1,200 students from 27 schools have come through the lab for lessons on investing. The students also tour the TU campus — for many it’s their first time visiting a college — which can be a powerful, motivating experience.

Jeannie Kihn, Financial Lab instructor, says it is amazing how these kids not only grasp, but master, the concepts of saving and investing skills for the future.

She recalls a group of fourth-grade girls who were discussing annuities in terms of “buying a whole basket of fruit, and if there are a few rotten pieces of fruit in there, it affects the value of the whole basket.”

Special shout-out to premier Stock Market Game teacher Flo Falatko, fifth-grade math teacher at Cromwell Valley Elementary.

Last summer, Falatko received the prestigious national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and on May 24, she is scheduled to be featured on a Today show segment discussing her classroom economy lessons and her advocacy for financial management instruction for youth. Awesome!