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BHS teacher strives to help students master economics

Brookhaven High School teacher Krista Russell never thoughtshe’d end up teaching economics. But when the ball was handed toher, she ran with it.

Now Russell, who lives in Wesson with her husband Laron, spendsone weekend a month during the school year and two weekends a monthduring the summer training to be a top-notch economics teacher.

Russell, whose background is in geography, also teachesMississippi Studies. She laughs at the disparity between thesubjects she teaches.

But more than that, Rusell saw the economics class as anopportunity. She has enrolled in a statewide certificate programthat teaches her how to show her students the everyday applicationof economics.

The program is made possible by the Mississippi Council onEconomic Education and the Mississippi Department of Education, andthe goal is to turn out at least 400 “master” economics teachers by2008.

“I had high school economics,” she said. “When they offered methe class, I saw it as a way to improve my teaching ability. I’mlearning economics are not as scary as they seem.”

Russell said part of the fun in teaching economics to highschool-aged kids is finding ways to relay the information so thatthey’ll understand and apply it. And it usually involves putting itin terms they’re familiar with.

“They learn a lot more if they’re actively involved,” shesaid.

A project she assigned to the children was one where they weredivided into restaurant groups and each group had to produce”pizzas” out of replacement supplies, such as paper. First theyproduced the pizzas as fast as they could themselves, then theywere taught assembly lines and cost analysis, as well as thebenefits of using different materials.

“They have to see how many they can produce and how much profitthey can make. They get very competitive,” said Russell. “I’ve gota group of athletes this nine weeks, and they take it to theextreme.”

But Russell said what makes it all worthwhile is when the kidscome to school with a real-world experience.

“It’s always great when they come in and tell me something thathappened, and they know they learned it in economics,” shesaid.

Days like those are the ones that assure Russell she’s in theright line of work.

“My mom was a teacher, and she taught me first grade. She was afabulous teacher,” she said. “So I knew what it takes to be ateacher. I never thought I had it in me, because I never thought Iwas as good a person as she is.”

According to Russell, it was when she was working atCopiah-Lincoln Community College in the computer lab that sherealized maybe she could be a teacher in an older classroom.

“I prayed for years about where I was supposed to be,” she said.”And God showed me little bits at a time. There was a time I wouldhave said no to teaching high school, but here I am.”

And the payoffs extend past the classroom and the summervacations for Russell.

“After I have taught them, and they come back to visit me,that’s when I realize I have had an impact on them,” she said.