By Madeleine Phillips
The John Morton Excellence in the Teaching of Economics Award is awarded annually by the Council for Economic Education to one elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, and high school teacher that uses exemplary teaching techniques both in and out of the classroom that help improve their students’ economic understanding. It is the most prestigious award an economics educator can be given. For the year of 2021, it was awarded to Mt. Hebron High School’s economics teacher, Mr. Vann Prime.
Mr. Prime has been the faculty coach of Mt. Hebron’s National Economic Challenge Teams since their founding in 2009. They’ve won sixteen Maryland State Championships, have gone to the National Finals nine times and, in just the past three years, have won six National titles, sweeping the competition.
He also coaches the United States team in the International Economics Olympiad, which has been represented by Mt. Hebron since its start in 2019. His trick? He has the older students, who compete in the Adam Smith division, teach the younger students, or those in the David Ricardo division.
Mr. Prime notes, “I write tests, I answer questions when something pops up, but it’s become almost a self-perpetuating machine for us.”
It’s clear Mr. Prime’s methods work. Mt. Hebron’s economics program is the largest in Maryland, with their outcomes being among the best. In 2019, Mt. Hebron accounted for 34% of all scores of 3 or higher on the AP Microeconomics exam in Howard County. And in 2020, Mt. Hebron accounted for 24% of all scores of 3 or higher on the AP Macroeconomics exam in Howard County.
“It’s not a course that’s mandated as a graduation requirement, and I think that’s a big thing. The program that [Mr. Prime] has grown is unprecedented. Not only is there nothing like it in the county, there’s nothing like what he’s doing in the state of Maryland.” says Dr. Joelle Miller, Mt. Hebron’s principal.
“[This award is] extremely meaningful because it’s the highest award I can win in my field. When I look at myself, I just go out and teach. I don’t know how I do it, or what makes it work. I teach the same way I dry myself off with a towel in the morning.” says Mr. Prime. His dedication to the class and his students has proven his worthiness of this award.