Cheryl Ayers has long known that her interests lie in education.
And she’s proven it by making education her focus for the past two decades.
Ayers’ career in education began during her undergraduate years at Virginia Tech. She graduated with a B.S. in Career and Technical Education in 1993 and went on to pursue a master’s in business administration from Lynchburg College and Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Ayers now returns to Virginia Tech as the new co-director for the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education. In this role, Ayers will partner with Professor Mike Ellerbrock, the center’s long-standing director, to help take the center to the next level, drawing in new educators and support from school divisions spanning Roanoke to Wise.
Ayers held a similar role at Lynchburg College for 10 years where she built their Center for Economic Education from the ground up. This included developing an advisory board for the center; delivering instruction to K-12 teachers and parents; and organizing and hosting competitions and awards programs for students and educators.
“The key is to equip new and veteran teachers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds with the knowledge and skills needed to educate students about economics and personal finance,” said Ayers. “Teaching students these disciplines empowers them to become productive and prosperous citizens. It’s vital to educate teachers on these topics so they can effectively educate the next generation of successful adults.”
Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics established the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education in the 1980s with a vision to serve the Commonwealth by providing economic education programs and curriculum developed for Virginia K-12 schools.
The center is affiliated with the Virginia Council on Economic Education and the Council for Economic Education and shares a common mission - to educate students in public schools about economic and personal finance issues by training teachers, in turn preparing students to be informed, capable members of the global economy.
“The center is of extreme importance to Virginia Tech,” said Ellerbrock. “Its values reach to the heart of the Virginia Tech community, where service, outreach, and education are esteemed endeavors.”
With lengthy experience at the Lynchburg College Center for Economic Education, involvement with the Virginia Council on Economic Education, as well as a broad background in teaching, research, and scholarship, Ayers adds a robust suite of skills and knowledge to her new role at Virginia Tech.
“The heart of my work has been to understand how to use economics and personal finance education to better prepare teachers, students, and low socioeconomic citizens for college, careers, and civic life,” said Ayers.
Ayers is also at the forefront of innovative professional development for K-12 teachers, holding an advanced research specialist position at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia.
“Ayers’ passion for economic education is evident the moment you start speaking to her, let alone her track record of research, instruction, and advocacy,” said Ellerbrock. “We are extremely thankful to have her on board and look forward to seeing how the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education grows in the coming months.”
Plans for the Virginia Tech Center include forming school division cohorts in Roanoke, Wytheville, and Wise for the Economic Education Advisory Board of Southwest Virginia Schools. In addition, Ayers and Ellerbrock will focus on growing the constituent base and offering K-12 educator professional development programs. These programs will provide content and curriculum knowledge and skills that address changes in the state's learning standards and assessments set forth by the Virginia Department of Education.