Ruliffson wins national award

Allen Ruliffson addresses a national audience of economic educators in St. Petersburg.
Allen Ruliffson addresses a national audience of economic educators in St. Petersburg.

Allen J. Ruliffson, who teaches seventh grade social studies at J. Frank Hillyard Middle School, has received the highest award given for middle school teaching of economic content by the Council for Economic Education.

Ruliffson was named the 2015 winner of the Council’s middle school John Morton Excellence in the Teaching of Economics Award.

Ruliffson, a past winner of local and state competitions, was encouraged to enter the competition by Lynne F. Stover of the James Madison University Center for Economic Education. “Allen has consistently done excellent work that makes economics real for the middle school population,” Stover said.

“This recognition reflects that teacher excellence makes a difference, and your project exemplifies the importance of economic and financial education as critical to students’ future success,” said Council Vice President Gwen Pajotte in notifying Ruliffson of his winning entry.

In support of his application, Ruliffson submitted material on career accomplishments in economic education, along with a local award-winning lesson plan, “Barracuda Barrel,” that used a “Shark Tank”-like competition among students to teach economic history.

Ruliffson was recognized in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the October meeting of the Council for Economic Education and the National Association of Economic Educators.

The award includes a $1000 check and the trip to St. Petersburg, where Ruliffson shared best practices with colleagues in a session coordinated by the Council.

The awards criteria call for nominees to “exhibit innovative approaches to economic and financial education using multiple teaching approaches.” “Allen’s work does all that and more,” Stover said.

Ruliffson’s previous prize-winning work included lesson plans and entire economics units that combined in-class instruction, field trips and technology projects. One entry took a traditional year-end field trip to Hershey Park and turned it into a multi-disciplinary learning project.

Ruliffson’s previous work has included solo projects and team projects. “Barracuda Barrel” was done jointly with Hillyard teacher Kim Fawley and technology resource teacher Alice Blair.

“Allen’s work shows how much seventh graders can learn when sound economics is combined with excellent presentation,” said Jerry Scripture, board chair of Shenandoah Valley Economic Education Inc. SVEE provides funding for a comprehensive economic education program locally.