Thursday, April 26, 2007
Local teacher goes the extra mile for students
Elizabeth Freeland-Landingham runs a video rental store in Oxford, teaches at Holly Springs High and takes care of her five-year-old child.
Somehow, the Birmingham native finds time to take weekend classes at Mississippi State University, her ticket to becoming the first Master Teacher in Economics at her high school. She hopes to gain that honor by early June.
“It’s been very, very good - I’m definitely learning a whole lot,’’ Freeland-Landingham said.
The statewide certificate program boosting economics skills in the classroom is made possible through a partnership between the Jackson-based Mississippi Council on Economic Education and the Mississippi Department of Education. Corporate supporters such as the Armstrong Foundation, AT&T, BancorpSouth, Citibank, State Farm Insurance and Trustmark are helping make it happen.
Statewide, the goal is to create at least 400 Master Teachers in Economics in time for students entering Mississippi high schools in 2008.
Freeland-Landingham said the workshops at MSU give her plenty of ideas to make economics exciting and tangible to students. They may touch on the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Northeast Mississippi, the boom from the $1.3 billion Toyota plant coming to the Tupelo area or the huge demand for PlayStation 3 games as Christmas gifts.
She can weave in lessons learned from her video business where the demand to rent the movie Casino Royale has lately exceeded the supply. She also brings in guest speakers to her classes such as Holly Springs bankers and mortgage company execs to make students’ education more real.
In her eighth year teaching at Holly Springs High, her list of subjects includes government and law, and minority studies in addition to economics. She wants to keep honing her skills and plans to attend an Advanced Placement Institute at Millsaps College July 9-13. The workshop will be provided by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE) thanks to a grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation.
A 1992 graduate of Clinton High and 1995 alum of Ole Miss with a degree in political science, Freeland-Landingham is a good example of why the Master Teacher of Economics Program is a success.
It is “working extremely well because our state has dedicated teachers who are taking on this challenge,’” said MCEE board chair Dr. Ted Alexander (Hattiesburg). The number one predictor of a student’s success is the quality and skill level of the classroom teacher, he noted.
The program began in 2004 and is paying nice dividends. Studies show teachers enrolled in the program score an average of 22 points higher on economics literacy tests, said Pamela Smith, president of the MCEE housed on the Millsaps campus in Jackson.
“These are highly significant results,’’ she said. “We believe students’ interest in economics will keep climbing, too!’’
Freeland-Landingham, 33, now has an oversupply of real world info she can bring to her Holly Springs students, whether it is gas prices to the price of meat at the grocery stores to financing a college education. She’s also well on her way to becoming the first master teacher in economics in Marshall County public schools.
For more information about teaching economics and becoming a master teacher, contact the MCEE office at Millsaps College at 601-974-1325. Applications for summer courses are available on the MCEE website at www.mscee.org. Applications are due May 1.
A popular course for educators is the Advanced Placement Economics Institute at Millsaps College from July 8-13, with funding support from the Phil Hardin Foundation.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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