Congratulations Derek monell 2017 Teacher of the Year!
Kealakehe High School in Kailua Kona, Hawaii has a distinguished economic literacy advocate in Derek Monell, this year’s 2017 Economics Teacher of the Year award recipient. Born and raised in San Diego, Derek first came to the islands in 1968. After graduating from Pomona College, he had an 8-year active duty stint with the Army, which included serving with the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the Joint Special Operations Command. After the Army, Derek became an industrial engineer at Kaiser Aluminum. This is where he got his first hard lesson in economics. The Berlin wall came down and the eastern bloc countries were dumping aluminum into the market which meant no raises or bonuses for a few years! For the next decade, Derek worked with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. His most rewarding times at Pfizer were as a corporate trainer, where he honed sales presentations and educated new account managers about the economics of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Some of these lessons included how to anticipate shifts in demand, how the ancillary costs of health care affected prescribing habits, and how to take advantage of Pfizer’s generous 401k and stock option plans. After working in very competitive and travel intensive fields, Derek decided to slow down and teach. He started at Kealakehe High School in the early 2000’s, where no one was teaching Economics at the time. Knowing that traditional economic curricula would put everyone to sleep, Derek attended his first HCEE workshop and began integrating the HCEE/ Stock Market Simulation into his lesson plans. It became a huge success and a way to engage students. After the birth of his son Gared, Derek went back to a more flexible schedule as an Account manager for Kaiser Permanente for almost 4 years. It was a great refresher in “real world economics.” At this time, the “great depression” was just hitting Hawaii. Employees with no real “hard skills” were being let go and those with degrees where scrambling for whatever they could find. It was a difficult but great real world reminder to bring back into the classroom. The Hawaii Stock Market Simulation is at the core of Derek’s huge portfolio project. He has participated in the simulation for over 10 years. The students love the competition and running their own portfolios. Derek’s teams have done rather well over the years. He gets great satisfaction seeing teenagers with no stock market experience get excited when their team nears the top of the rankings. In summary, Derek loves what he does because it energizes our future leaders, investors, laborers and parents to have some understanding of how the world of money works