Joanne Ringor (left) teaches U.S. history at Farrington High School. She is answering questions about WWI from students including Travis Quemado (center) and Gretchen Santos. Ringor recently won a national award for teaching economics.

Teacher honored
for dynamic approach
to economics

Joanne Ringor

>> Job: Social studies teacher at Farrington High School

>> Award: Nasdaq National Teaching Award winner for the West Region, one of five regional awards. Each regional winner was awarded $10,000 and received an all-expenses-paid trip to New York. The National Teaching Award winner was Diane R. Neylan of John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond, Va.

>> Competition: The awards are presented by the Nasdaq Stock Market Educational Foundation Inc. and the National Council on Economic Education to honor high school teachers across the country for fostering economic literacy. Awards were presented in New York on April 7.

How long have you been teaching?

Three years. I love it. It's a very, very rewarding job.

Have you been teaching economics that whole time?

I started teaching economics last year.

How did you come to teach economics?

You're just given a line and you have to teach it. You find out what your classes are, hopefully in few months in advance, and you do it. That's how it is with all our classes, especially for new teachers.

Where and when did you learn about the economy and personal finance?

In college we had to take basic economics classes as part of the liberal arts curriculum. I also have a background in urban planning that involved some economics. And I've taken some workshops put on by the National Council on Economic Education.

One of the criteria for this award is the creation of a innovative economic curriculum, what do you do with your students that is unique?

My entry was a simulation of an economic community. The students played different roles in the community, from government to bankers, consumers, construction companies. The purpose of it was to teach the effects of macro economics policy, fiscal and monetary policy.

So did you spend a lot of time interpreting Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's speeches with them?

No, no. We kept it really simple.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I was trying to think of a way to teach macroeconomics in a way that made sure they really understood the cause and effects. It's hard to teach that without just having the kids do worksheets and memorize answers. So I was talking to some other teachers and we came up with the idea of doing a simulation.

The presenting agencies stress the importance of federal and state standards in economics education. Does Hawaii have such standards?

Yes. The Hawaii content and performance standards do have a section on economic education.

What are some of the things students find most interesting in your classes?

I don't know what they found the most interesting. They made some interesting comments that pleased me. In one round of the simulation the Fed raised lending rates. We had kids playing Realtors and basically they said this round was junk because it was difficult to sell houses because there was not enough money given by the bank. I was beginning to see that they actually saw the connections between the policy and the different sectors of the community.

Are there concepts that are harder for them to understand?

I think monetary policy is a little more difficult than fiscal because money is such an abstract concept for them.

Did you spend much time talking about the stock market?

No, not really.

Why is this sort of education important to your students?

Economics is about making choices and understanding the costs that are attached to the decisions you make. That concept can be applied to every day, to every decision that they make. So in that sense, I think it's important.

Inside Hawaii Inc. is a conversation with a member of the Hawaii business community who has changed jobs, been elected to a board or been recognized for accomplishments. Send questions and comments to:


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