The Alfred P. Sloan Teaching Champion Award is presented to economics educators in the New York metropolitan area who have shown excellence and innovative teaching methods in their classrooms. The award aims to promote economic and financial education at the K‐12 level by recognizing teachers who effectively deliver this important content in their classrooms and achieve results.
12th Grade Economics Teacher of Economics and AP Macroeconomics
New Rochelle High School
New Rochelle, NY
Years of teaching experience: 18
Darren Gurney began teaching social studies at New Rochelle High School in 1996. He has been teaching AP Macroeconomics since 2007 and a one semester Economics course since 2000. Gurney founded the NRHS Economics Team which has finished in the top five annually in CEE’s New York State Economics Challenge for the past eight years (2nd place finish in 2014).
Mr. Gurney attended Washington University in St. Louis where he played baseball and majored in history before earning a Masters in Social Studies Education at Teachers College of Columbia University. NASDAQ selected Gurney for national semi-finalist in 2004 as one of the “Top 12 economics educators in the USA”. CNBC and The New York Times have visited his classroom to run feature stories on his students and their investment endeavors. Jim Cramer invited ten of Gurney’s students and their families to be part of his “Mad Money Father’s Day Show” in 2007.
In 2011, Coaches Choice published Covering All the Bases, a 298 page instructional baseball book, which Gurney penned about proper baseball fundamentals and mechanics. Gurney has coached high school and NCAA baseball for the past 22 years and is also the founder/director of Rising Star Baseball Camp, the largest baseball camp in Westchester County.
“By providing a comprehensive economic education to my students, I aspire to empower them to make effective choices as adults when spending money, using credit cards, managing investments, setting up retirement accounts, pinpointing competitive mortgage rates, negotiating with car dealers, understanding how monetary and fiscal policy affect their daily lives, and a multitude of other financial decisions. My passion for inspiring teenagers to become financially literate helps foster a more prosperous economic future for our nation and its citizenry.”
Fourth Grade Teacher of Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science
P.S. 97/The Highlawn School
Years of teaching experience: 11
Kate O’Hagan has been a public school teacher for eleven years. She developed a passion for teaching economics after attending CEE’s professional development workshops. Kate has implemented a classroom mini-economy in her fourth grade classroom, where kids pay rent, apply for jobs, receive bonuses, and purchase insurance. Kate is constantly seeking ways to infuse economics lessons into the curriculum. She has organized debates on economic issues, used plays to teach economics, and had the students manufacture real products for their classroom store using a 3-D printer (procured through a grant).
Kate is a member of her school’s professional development committee and was a member of the DOE’s Literacy Common Core Task Design Team in 2012–2013. She has been an active grant writer and received numerous awards and fellowships; including being a writing fellow in the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullen Center in 2009, a MetLife Fellow in 2007–2008, and the recipient of both the UFT’s Trachtenberg and Chapter Building Awards in 2013–2014.
“Students are born into their parents’ economic reality and unfortunately, for far too many city children this often means not seeing their parents because they work multiple jobs, sometimes coming to school hungry, being under-dressed for the weather, or arriving to school without basic school supplies. Economic education and financial literacy instruction empowers students to envision and prepare for a better economic future for themselves and hopefully, also teaches them the importance of being philanthropic.”
12th Grade Teacher of Economics (Intensive, Regents, Honors, AP)
Clarkstown South High School
West Nyack, NY
Years of Teaching Experience: 8
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Secondary Education for Social Studies from the State University of New York at Cortland, Amanda Tombari started teaching at Clarkstown South High School. After seeing the importance and need for strong Economics curriculum in schools, she began and completed her Master’s Degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from the University at Albany. She has attended a number of workshops offered by the Council for Economic Education, College Board, and Syracuse University. The knowledge she has gained from these workshops and their presenters, as well as her studies at Cortland and Albany, has helped her teach Economics students of varying abilities and instruct other teachers on effective practices through the Cortland Center for Economic Education and the New York State Council for the Social Studies’ annual conferences. In addition to her work as an Economics teacher, she serves as a teacher mentor to economically disadvantaged youth who plan to pursue a degree in teaching.
“In order to prepare our youth for the future, we must teach students the skills they need to be active, engaged citizens who not only make rational decisions, but also challenge the ideas of others. Economics education allows this to happen. Students are given a place to learn the decision making skills that complete their toolkit and aid them in their understanding of the social sciences. These skills are essential, no matter what the students’ ability levels or future plans, and will be used undoubtedly for the duration of their lives.”