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By Eller College


Deidre Calhoun of Civano Community School in Vail, Ariz., and Megan Kirts of Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Ariz., are the winners of the inaugural Ed Eisele Award for Excellence in Economics Education.

The Eisele Awards are administered by the Department of Economics and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College and the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, and are made possible by the generous support of Ed Eisele, former president and CEO of Holsum Bakery, Inc.

The awards recognize exceptional teachers of economics at the K-12 grade levels in Southern Arizona. Twenty teachers were nominated this year, and 13 applied for the final awards.

Deirdre Calhoun teaches fourth and fifth grade students at Civano Community School in Vail, Ariz. She began teaching 13 years ago, after a career as a technical writer and software product manager. She creates engaging activities, including a class business, through which her students learn economic concepts, personal finance, and mathematics. 

“One of Deirdre’s real strengths is a hands on approach to all math concepts,” said Civano Community School lead teacher Pam Bateman. “This year, her class spent the first semester putting together an art show, auction, and reception for parents and community members. Last year she had a student-run restaurant evening. The students were in charge of every aspect of the restaurant, from reservations, shopping, preparing, serving, and entertaining, all the way through the big clean up. Everything that she does is hands on and meaningful to the students and they not only come away with an amazing experience, but with the skills and attitude that will help them be good problem solvers as well as team players.”

Megan Kirts is a teacher and social studies department chair at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson. In addition to teaching Advanced Placement U.S. History, Advanced Placement Macroeconomics, economics, and American government courses, she regularly presents professional development workshops for teachers of economics in both Tucson and Phoenix. 

“Mrs. Kirts is an innovative teacher of AP U.S. History and AP Economics at the highest achieving comprehensive public high school in Arizona,” said her colleague Chris Lambert. “She leads objective-driven lessons that are grounded in the most recent research in pedagogy as well as the integration of technology. These lessons engage students in higher-level thinking and writing skills.”

Calhoun and Kirts will be presented with the awards at an event on November 19 in Tucson.

Top photo of Civano Community School by Swaim Associates Architects.