Teacher Spotlight on Marisa Gray

January 30, 2023

Meet Marisa Gray, our featured teacher in the “TREP$ Teacher Spotlight!”  We recently had the opportunity to ask Marisa a few questions about her experience teaching TREP$ at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

How long have you been teaching TREP$? 

This is my third year teaching TREP$ at my current school. Before this, I worked at a different middle school that introduced TREP$, and I was an assistant advisor there. I got to learn the ins and outs of the program. When I went to my new school, I took on the club and built it from the bottom up, and it’s been more successful each year! This year we added an extra co-advisor, so I love working with two of my colleagues to create the TREP$ magic.

How many students participate?

This year we had 170 students participate, which was 70 more students than we had last year! Interest continues to grow, especially with incoming sixth graders.

What do you find the most rewarding about teaching TREP$?

The most rewarding part of teaching TREP$ is giving students responsibility for their own learning and success. I teach English, so I get to see many of my students in a completely different way when they are working on their businesses. They become professionals before my very eyes! Parents also love to see their child taking ownership of something.

How do students apply their academic studies through TREP$?

In TREP$, the pricing and profit lessons give real-life applications of math concepts that students learn in school. Students have to learn about the importance of understanding their numbers from revenue to profit to expenses, etc. Students also learn about loans, which parents love to teach them! Nothing is free. Students also must use their language arts skills by designing print advertisements that are persuasive, concise, and creative. Students get a lot of practice with speaking and listening skills, especially when they pitch their business ideas to local entrepreneurs. There are so many applications that connect what we teach them in school to what they need to practice in their real world businesses!

How have you enhanced the TREP$ experience at your school?

One way that I’ve enhanced the TREP$ experience is by getting kids really excited about it before we begin. I talk to kids in homerooms, I send out videos and slideshows with information, and I let them know that there is real earning potential for our hardest working entrepreneurs. The students get so excited to join the club and come up with creative ideas! For the opening candy bar challenge, students are told that their target audience is the staff of teachers. After that meeting, we send an anonymous form for teachers to vote on the candy bar that they would most likely purchase. The winning candy bar wins a candy bar at our second meeting, and we talk about the value of knowing your customer and what would appeal to them. We also try to collaborate with parents and the community as much as possible to really get the word out! It’s been a great experience so far.

How does TREP$ benefit the students in your school?

TREP$ benefits students in so many ways. They learn how to think outside the box, how to create something from the ground up, how to take ownership of something, and how to step out of their comfort zones for their own success. It’s amazing to see students work so hard for a goal because they see the value of it. Some of my most successful TREP$ students are ones who tend to struggle in school and academic settings. They thrive in a different type of environment, and it’s amazing to see!

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