3M Economics Educator Awards 2015

Eight engaging teachers were recognized at the Econ Illinois Economic Education Day Award Luncheon on October 27. Winners of the 3M Economic Educator Awards for 2015 were lauded for their outstanding commitment to economic education. The award luncheon, sponsored by 3M, was held at the Union League Club of Chicago and attended by honorees, their guests, Econ Illinois Board members and supporters.

Outstanding Economic Educator Award winners

Criteria for the Outstanding Economic Educator Award: A long-standing commitment to teaching economics in the classroom; promoting economic education in their school and district; continuous involvement in professional development programs and student-based programs enhancing economic education. Teachers receive a plaque, a cash award and participation in a unique professional development seminar. The winner's school receives a grant to promote economic education in the school's curriculum.

Candace Fikis, Community High School, West Chicago


Ms. Fikis teaches social studies and economics, has a rich understanding of economics and personal finance, and uses her knowledge to capture student interest in the world around them. She was hired to revive the econ department at her school and has done so with great success. Candace has gone on to build demand for the economics coursework and consequently gained approval to expand the course offerings by creating an AP Macroeconomics course. She is currently working to gain approval for an AP Microeconomics course for the 2016-17 school year.

Candace uses her passion and expertise to actively engage her students in competitions and activity- based learning. This past year four of her students earned First Place in the Illinois Personal Finance Challenge, advancing to represent Illinois in the National Personal Finance Challenge. She is always looking to attend conferences and professional development offerings when not presenting to other teachers herself. Ms. Fikis engages her students through a wide variety of real world experiences, such as creating an open-outcry pit to simulate the trading that once occurred on the floor of the Board of Trade, claiming her student’s comprehension of the trading markets skyrocketed.

Candace Fikis’ professionalism and passion has extended beyond her classroom as well. A year ago she won a scholarship to attend the national Jumpstart Conference in Los Angeles, which broadened her network of colleagues, provided a wealth of content and resources and showcased how she could integrate technology to expand the teaching of economics. Technology and integration has become a new focus for her professionally.

“This award is given to educators who have sustained a history of contribution and commitment to economic education through their leadership, professional growth, and achievement of their students”, said Dr. Moses Cheng, principal of West Chicago Community High School. “Ms. Fikis has demonstrated all those attributes through her teaching in Economics and AP Economics, as well as in her coaching of WeGo’s Illinois Personal Finance Challenge team to a state championship last year. Ms. Fikis’ skill in teaching economic and financial literacy in and out of the classroom has greatly benefitted our students and makes her a worthy recipient of this award.”

Lauren Musielewicz, Meadow Ridge School, Orland Park


Ms. Musielewicz continually strives to create an environment where students can be confident in learning the critical skills needed to navigate through life. She continually looks for conferences and professional development opportunities to improve her knowledge base and to bring new and engaging curricula back to her classroom. She then shares new resources and materials with her colleagues through informal workshops that she delivers, advocating for others to include economics in their classwork.

Lauren’s classes participate in the Economics Concepts Poster Content each year with her students regularly earning regional and state awards for their insightful drawings. She routinely incorporates a variety of economic education lessons and activities to the third and fourth grade classes that she teaches. In addition, she designs her own projects such as the Region-omics Unit that challenges students to create their own business and approach investors in a “Shark Tank” simulation. This year her classes will begin participating in The Stock Market Game™ program and its language arts counterpart InvestWrite as part of a financial unit she will be incorporating into her teaching schedule.

“Meadow Ridge is blessed to have such wonderful teachers. Ms. Musielewicz works tirelessly to create real-world, problem based learning experiences that are authentically meaningful and engage students in wanting and seeking to learn more. We are grateful that our students had the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful organization, program and experience.” Shannon Roedel

"I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of Econ Illinois. Over the years, The Office of Economic Education at Governors State has provided workshops and materials that have helped me design engaging economic learning experiences for my students. I most definitely owe a big thank you to this organization for its guidance and support. My students benefit greatly from all that Econ Illinois offers." Lauren Musielewicz

STARs in the Classroom Award winners

The STARs in the Classroom award recognizes teachers each year who have done an impressive job of bringing Econ Illinois' signature economic education programs into their classrooms to benefit their students. The teachers and their students have participated in our Economics Poster Contest, The Stock Market Game™ program, Personal Finance Challenge and/or Economics Challenge in the past academic year. They represent schools from around the state. Shown in the picture:

  • Nick Anello, Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor
  • Craig Chatham, Harry D Jacobs High School, Algonquin
  • Candace Fikis, Community High School, West Chicago
  • Rosa Lamb, Aspira Business and Finance High School, Chicago
  • Scott Lauer, LaSalle Peru Township High School, LaSalle
  • Lauren  Musielewicz, Meadow Ridge School, Orland Park
  • Jennifer Niemi, New Trier High School, Winnetka
  • J. Tracy Prescott, Washington Gifted Middle School, Peoria