A Champion for Student Success

Two years ago, Josh Sailers, an economics teacher at Woodstock High School in Cherokee County, read a statistic that bothered him: Of all the college students who are majoring in economics, only 27 percent are women.

He decided to do something about that. So in 2016, he started “Sophie’s Club: Women in Economics,” a club for female seniors at his school to help them learn about the economics profession. The club meets twice a year, and he brings in former students who are majoring in economics as well as women who are currently in the field.

“I wanted the young women I teach to learn about all the opportunities that exist for female economics majors,” says Sailers, who’s been teaching economics at Woodstock High School since 2005. “It’s opening their eyes to the possibilities.” He currently has 59 students in the club and hopes to expand it to other schools in the county within the next year.

This is one example of how Sailers takes on a challenge for the benefit of his students. Another is when he built the Advanced Placement (AP) program in Micro- and Macroeconomics at Woodstock High School in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Up until that point, students did not have the opportunity to take AP economics classes. In fact, he was the first teacher in Cherokee County to teach both AP Micro- and AP Macroeconomics. He calls himself a “tireless” advocate for increasing the numbers of students who take AP economics and now his classes are full every semester.

At the heart of everything he does is this mantra: “How can I make every student successful?”

He strives to keep his students engaged and show them how economics is relevant in their lives every day. He created an economics twitter account that he uses to tweet out articles of interest and invites his students to tweet examples of economics from their lives. He says these include price discrimination at a restaurant, pictures of diminishing returns while cooking with their families and pandas at the zoo as an example of a monopoly.

He uses simulations in classroom to make the material more hands on for his students and to explain multiple concepts at once. He uses one simulation – Eatonomics – in which students must make a food product and sell it to the class. He charges them to rent the room, and they must track the expenses used in making the product. “They learn about fixed and variable costs, profit, profit margins and even globalization,” he says.

Although he’s been teaching for 13 years, Sailers strives to keep his content fresh and continues to develop his teaching skills. He estimates he’s probably taken 15 workshops from the Georgia Council over the course of his teaching career, and finds he still benefits from each workshop he takes.

“When I went to the first workshop, it was a game changer,” he says. “They teach you everything you need to know about how to teach economics and make your students successful. Continuing to attend workshops makes me a better teacher every time I go.”