Inspiring Teachers and the NYSE Fellowship

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday...

 (Photo credit: Brian Metcalfe)

I recently attended was is one of my favorite days of the year -  the annual meeting of the committee to select the recipients of our Teachers Fellowships. Every summer, NYSE Euronext teams up with the SEC, and we present four one-week long Teachers Workshops. Three of the weeks bring the teachers to NYC and the New York Stock Exchange to learn about financial markets. The final week is a graduate program held in DC at the SEC and other key government locations to provide teachers who have attended the NYC program with a deeper dive into the regulation of financial markets and the government role. We had historically charged a modest registration fee to ensure that teachers who registered would indeed attend. While every school is strapped for funding these days, we recognized that teachers from the most under-resourced schools were not attending - and also recognized that their attendance was critically important to helping some of the students who need this information the most. So, three years ago, we introduced a fellowship program to bring almost 50 teachers to our workshops each summer at no expense - we pay their airfare, hotel and meals, as well as their registration fees. The Fellowship has become increasingly popular among teachers, and each year the caliber of the applicants is even more impressive. Since we started the fellowship in 2011, we have awarded 139 Fellowships to teachers from 36 states who bring these learnings back to almost 23,000 in the first year alone. They all have plans to disseminate their workshop experiences to other teachers and to their communities.

The group that gathers to select the Fellowship recipients includes many of our most important non-profit partners, including NFTE, CEE, JA, SIFMA Foundation (Stock Market game), the Museum of American Finance, and St. Francis College (our partner in providing college credit for the teachers workshop). Most of our judges are in their third year participating because it is such an inspiring day. Reading through the applications reminds you of the critical role teachers play in inspiring students far beyond the courses they teach. Most of our applicants come from schools with significant percentages of students on free or reduced lunch (an indication of the income level of the families in the school), and often the resources available to their schools are extremely limited. Yet these teachers find amazing ways to teach their students about markets and personal finance. From working with the students to create businesses in their schools (cafes, stores, banks), to helping them create their own businesses, to sharing the single Wall Street Journal available to the school, these are the types of teachers that students will remember and point to in tracing the arc of their own lives. The students the Fellowship recipients will reach include adult GED students, speakers of dozens of languages, students who are responsible for the finances of their families though still in high school, students on Indian Reservations, students in schools recovering from the recent Oklahoma tornados, and many more who face challenges in their daily lives but are fortunate to have creative, motivated, caring teachers working to make a difference in their lives.

I once again leave the selection meeting humbled, impressed, and hopeful. The teacher applicants - those who will receive the Fellowships and those who will not - inspire me. 

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