Retired Air Force officer and longtime local educator Gregory Powell is on a mission to teach the next generation the importance of financial investing.
After serving in the military for 23 years, he went on to teach in the Dayton Public Schools system from 1997 to 2019. He’s currently an adjunct professor at Wright State University.
Powell has written a book titled “Our Stock is Rising: The Wiz Kids of West Dayton.”
Powell drew inspiration to write the book after noticing his students had a disinterest in the local newspaper’s business section.
“What inspired me to write the book was an early observation of young, urban students, especially males, fixated on the status associated with owning high-end consumer products such as Nike Air Jordans, while often, a single parent works two jobs to make that ownership possible,” he said.
Powell believes it is important to introduce students at an early age to the stock market so they do not miss out on an entire culture that is the financial lifeblood of this country’s economic heartbeat.
“It has been said that investing in stocks is the best legal means of becoming rich in this country other than through real estate,” he said. “The stock market can be intimidating from the outside looking in. But in reality, major portions of it can be broken down into simple, elementary school-level math. Young students can be made to understand the simple concept of ‘Buy low, sell high,’ and from there be introduced to factors that impact the market, associated vocabulary and risk versus reward.”
After retiring from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1997, Powell attended the University of Dayton at night to obtain his teaching license for elementary education. He’d also been a volunteer tutor at Van Cleve Elementary School.
Powell was selected to meet first lady Laura Bush through the Troops to Teachers program, which was established in 1993 to assist transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 schoolteachers. She visited WPAFB to help promote continued funding of the program.
In Dayton Public Schools, Powell taught multiple subjects to students in grades 1-8 for 22 years.
“I like teaching,” he said. “It’s good for me because it keeps me young.”
Powell coined a stock market activity called “Our Stock is Rising” that helped teach young students the benefits of financial investing.
“I took it as a personal challenge to design an ongoing activity that incorporated the basic principles of an elementary curriculum to teach students the fundamentals of the stock market,” he said.
The idea came to him when he was teaching sixth grade.
“I had the students give reports on current events, and I noticed they never looked at the business pages,” he recalled. “They would talk about expensive gym shoes and I told them that every time they bought them, I’d thank them since I had invested in that company.”
If he could get his students interested in this, he figured they’d begin to understand investing.
“I told them how important it was for them to be investors, not just consumers,” he said. “I wanted them to learn that it’s a global market.”
Powell put together an 80-page manuscript for his new book detailing how any teacher can introduce their elementary students to the stock market.
“It includes suggested classroom-seating arrangement, prerequisite skills, necessary materials, forms, teaching instructions and even strategies and tactics for competition in the Stock Market Game,” he added. “I am currently in the process of trying to secure a publisher.”
Powell’s accolades include being named a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar for excellence in teaching, Dayton Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2005 and a finalist for Ohio Teacher of the Year.
In 2007, Powell’s stock market activity was featured as an exemplar in “Five Standards for Effective Teaching,” a book by Dr. Stephanie Stoll, who served in the Department of Education.
From 2016-2018, his urban stock market teams garnered five top-10 finishes in the Ohio Stock Market Game, bettering more than 100 private and Catholic schools throughout the state.
Powell also co-wrote an article with Dr. Anna Lyon at Wright State University discussing a study in economics. It was recently published in Social Studies and the Young Learner, a nationally distributed magazine.
A retired major, Powell originally enlisted in the Air Force to travel and finish school. Upon achieving the rank of staff sergeant, he was selected to attend Officer Training School in 1980.
His final assignment came as a lead logistician for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System at Wright-Patterson AFB.
For more information regarding Powell and his “Our Stock is Rising” program, visit www.ourstockisrising.com/.
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