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Bayside teacher lands prestigious award for economics work

A teacher from Flushing’s World Journalism Preparatory School who lives in Bayside was honored alongside financial and investment titans by the national Council for Economic Education during a Manhattan ceremony last week.

Ken Mengani, a Bayside resident, teaches economics to seniors and world history to sophomores at the World Journalism Preparatory School at 34-65 192nd St. in Flushing.

On Oct. 29, Mengani was honored with one of the Council for Economic Education’s Visionary Awards for his work in the classroom and online during an awards dinner at Manhattan’s St. Regis Hotel.

“I was completely floored,” he said. “I can’t believe they’d honor me. I’m just a teacher in New York, a regular person. At first, I thought it was a joke by one of my colleagues from the Economics Council, who is a bit of a joker. But this is a real honor.”

He was presented with the award as well as a check for $1,000 by the council, a national advocate for increased economic and personal finance education from kindergarten through 12th-grade.

Mengani earned his first master’s degree in teaching from Brooklyn College and a second from the University of Delaware’s Economics and Entrepreneurship Education program. He began teaching in 2003 at Brooklyn’s Franklin K. Lane High School, which is on the border of Queens, before transferring to the Flushing school two years ago.

During that time, he has also taken part in training workshops for the Economic Education Council through Queens College’s Taft Institute.

Mengani also has taught online programs for the Council, including one in which he instructed high school students about concepts of supply and demand by having them pretend they were buyers and traders of silver. He has contributed to an economics textbook, “Principles of Economics,” for publisher McGraw-Hill.

“I think that economics education should be taught throughout a child’s school experience,” he said. “A knowledge of economic concepts is essential to leading a productive life on multiple levels. The fact of the matter is when graduates go to college they will face the most competitive labor market in the history of the country. They need to understand cost benefit analysis, basic accounting, entrepreneurship, taxation, how the government collects and spends money, how the Federal Reserve and the monetary system works.”

Mengani said students should also have an understanding of the nature of loans and investments.

“I know students who don’t want to take out a loan, but they’ll get a credit card they don’t need,” he said. “They’ll borrow for bad reasons, but won’t borrow for good reasons. The economic crisis might not have been as serious if the public had a better grounding in finance and economics.”

Other honorees at the ceremony included Charles Schwab, founder of the Charles Schwab Corp.; bestselling author and financial motivational speaker Suze Orman; Roger Ferguson, president and chief executive officer of TIAA-CREF; and Gary Stern, the recently retired president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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