Motivating Students Towards Success

Tim Reeder, an economics teacher at Chattahoochee High School in Fulton County, has a pretty good track record when it comes to the success of his students.

Over the last three years, his pass rates on the Advanced Placement (AP) Micro- and Macroeconomics exams have been nearly 100 percent, with his students’ average scores ranging from 4.5 to 4.94 out of a score of five.

His teams have dominated the Georgia Economics Challenge, earning the title of State Champions four times. In 2017, he led a team to the National Finals in New York City, placing second in the country.

He also discovered that of 150,000 students worldwide who took the AP Macroeconomics exam in spring 2017, only 60 received perfect scores. Three of those students were from his class.

These accomplishments are pretty impressive given the fact that Reeder didn’t plan to be an economics teacher.

After working in the business world for several years, he decided to become a teacher, and got a provisional certificate. When he was looking for a job teaching social studies, he got a call from his former AP Government teacher at his alma mater, Chattahoochee High School. The teacher was going on medical leave, and was wondering if Reeder would like to take over his classes. Thinking he’d be teaching AP Government and U.S. History, Reeder agreed.

It wasn’t until later that he found out his teacher was no longer teaching the same classes he did when Reeder was a student. Instead, he had all economics classes.

“I had agreed to something I couldn’t back out of,” Reeder says.

Luckily for his students, Reeder didn’t back out. He embraced the subject, attended some GCEE workshops and has never looked back.

“It is exciting for me to see students start the year with nearly no economic knowledge and then finish equipped as educated economic citizens,” he says.

Reeder, who has been the head of Chattahoochee’s Social Studies Department since 2014, says he tries to find real world examples that will help his students better grasp the concepts.

“I make the economic theory connect to these personal matters that the students care about,” he says. “When they see how the topic relates to them and how their lives are shaped by it, they are more interested, and work harder to learn and master the information.”

Reeder strives to find creative ways to engage his students, such as using “Market in Wheat” and “Econoland” simulations from the Georgia Council that help demonstrate the economic concepts.

“Simulations take the theory curriculum and put in into practice,” Reeder says. “During simulations, students are up and moving around, engaging in the activity. It’s often not until the debrief at the end of the lesson that they realize what they were making economic decisions and learning new concepts.”

Although he has been teaching for over a decade and has had great success in the classroom, Reeder continues to strive to be what he calls a “student of economics.” He regularly attends GCEE workshops, stays up to date on the latest technology and is always pursuing new opportunities to widen his experiences.

“I feel that teaching is such an important profession because it shapes the next generation,” he says, “so I want to give my students my best so they can go on and achieve their best. That is what motivates me to come to work every day.”