Towson University is guided by its ten institutional priorities as part of its strategic plan. One of these priorities, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Applied Research, is especially pertinent to the Division of Innovation and Applied Research (DIAR) (it’s even part of our name). While this priority drives much of what we do at RESI, it is also valuable to partner with other organizations that embrace these principles as well.

About the Signature Program

One of RESI’s outreach activities includes working with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) for their innovative Signature programs. Signature programs connect students and teachers with local community and business leaders to bring an element of the “real world” into the classroom. Each of AACPS’s twelve comprehensive high schools chose a theme for its individualized Signature program, with topics ranging from human performance to design preservation and innovation. All students have the opportunity to take specialized coursework for the Signature at their schools as well as participate in extracurricular activities such as internships, field trips, international study and immersion, or job shadowing. An Integrated Community Stakeholder Team (ICST) collaborates with each school to further bridge the connections between the school and the community at large.

These ICSTs are where RESI gets involved: many of my colleagues and I are involved with the ICSTs for the Community Development and Global Citizenship Signature at Arundel High School (AHS) and the International Finance and Economics Signature at Old Mill High School (OMHS). As ICST members, we meet with AACPS educators and students as well as other community and business members to help shape the Signature programs. For example, I spent a day with AHS students last semester to teach a lesson on environmental economics, which connected their curriculum modules on economics and environmental issues. Raquel Frye, Managing Director of RESI, has also enjoyed her time with the OMHS Signature:

Working with the AA [Anne Arundel] Signature Program for International Finance and Economics has been an amazing experience. I enjoyed having the ability to help develop coursework and assessments and then getting a chance to view firsthand how successful (or unsuccessful) they were in the classroom. The lessons learned through the process have been invaluable to someone like me who is really passionate about economics education.

Raquel Frye
Managing Director of RESI

In addition to RESI going to the classroom, we bring students in the Signature program to TU’s campus. For example, AHS students have attended RESI’s Economic Outlook Conference (EOC) in the past and will return to campus on November 17 for this year’s conference on Conscious Capitalism: The Economics of Doing Good. Attending the EOC is a highlight for students, and as Phelps Prescott, AP Economics teacher at AHS describes, “These conferences have produced students that are more devoted to the studies of Economics and [have prepared] students for any University of College where they might want to study Economics.” And RESI’s contributions to Signature and AACPS have not gone unnoticed. On September 22, 2015, Dr. Daraius Irani, RESI’s Chief Economist and a member of AHS’s ICST, received the 21st Century Education Foundation’s 2015 Business Partner Award.

Signature Program

Reginald Wilson and Joanne Brack of AACPS with Daraius Irani at the 21st Century Education Foundation 2015 Networking Breakfast with the Superintendent, where Irani received the 2015 Business Partner Award

Participating in Signature, in addition to providing an outlet for community outreach, allows RESI to carry on TU’s history and legacy as a teachers’ college. In light of the ongoing celebrations to commemorate TU’s 150th anniversary, any opportunity to contribute to innovative educational programs in the region is especially significant. And, as someone whose interest in economics was first piqued during her high school economics coursework, I relish in the opportunity to influence the next wave of economics nerds.