Dr. Rita Littrell, director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education at the University of Arkansas, was one of just 12 educators nationwide to be recognized for excellence in teaching economics.
Littrell, and Sheila Humphrey, a Master Economics Teacher at Woods Elementary, were the only Arkansas educators among the 12 who were recognized during the 52nd Annual Financial Literacy and Economic Education Conference, in Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 4. The conference was hosted by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) and the National Association of Economic Educators (NAEE).
Littrell received the Abbejean Kehler Technology Award for promoting the use of technology to improve the delivery of economic education. Since she was appointed director of the Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education at the University of Arkansas in 2004, she has spearheaded the increased incorporation of new media, such as smart phones, webinars and podcasts, into professional development for teachers. As a result, more educators have participated in economic education training, have benefitted from easier access to online economics training and resources, and have learned strategies for increasing technology into their classroom lessons.
Littrell has served on the NAEE technology committee, coordinated technology sessions at the CEE’s annual conferences and participated in the first Training-of-Trainers of Virtual Economics, an interactive database of more than 1,400 economics and personal finance lesson plans. Economics Arkansas is affiliated with the Bessie B. Moore Center as one of six university-based centers for economic education in Arkansas.
“I was truly humbled to receive this recognition,” Littrell said. “It is a real honor to know that our national network of CEE and NAEE recognizes that Arkansas is a leader in economic education and technology. Using technology to facilitate the learning of economics by Arkansas teachers and students excites me about my job and challenges me to continue learning.”
Humphrey received the National Teacher Award, elementary school level, in recognition of her more than 25 years of teaching hands-on, project-based economics. She currently teaches 1st grade at Woods Elementary School in Fort Smith.
In 2006, she received her Master Economics Teacher designation from Economics Arkansas, which enables her to conduct economic teacher training and professional development for the organization. Statewide, she is known—and revered—for her novel economic classroom projects such as “No Bees, No Honey, No Work, No Money!” and “Economics is a ‘Natural’ for Baseball.”
“I am passionate in the belief that even young children can begin to understand basic economic concepts,” Humphrey said after accepting the award. “Seeing their light bulbs come on as they begin to understand these basic economics concepts is all the proof I need to know that this investment of time will pay big dividends in the future!”