Cranston teacher wins Financial Literacy Educator of the Year honor

JAMES GEMMA, left, a teacher at Edward S. Rhodes School in Cranston, was presented with the Rhode Island Financial Literacy Educator of the Year award by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner on Monday. / COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF GENERAL TREASURER

PROVIDENCE – Cranston elementary school teacher James Gemma has been named Rhode Island’s Financial Literacy Educator of the Year.

Gemma, who teaches at Edward S. Rhodes School, was recognized during a surprise visit by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner on Monday. Gemma is the first elementary school teacher to be selected as the state’s top financial literacy educator.

Earlier this year, two of Gemma’s students placed in the top 10 for the national Investwrite competition, which reinforces students’ personal finance knowledge and hones their critical-thinking skills.

“Parents tell me that their children are excited to learn in his class,” said Rhodes School Principal Erica Williams, who nominated Gemma. “Students are also learning important skills around collaboration, accountability and technology.”

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Magaziner was joined for the surprise visit by Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, City Councilor Lammis Vargas and Cranston Schools Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse. Gemma’s wife, his two children and his father were also part of the presentation ceremony.

“All year Mr. Gemma has worked tirelessly to prepare my classmates and me for real-life financials. He lets us figure out the consequences of buying of stocks and bonds, while having fun and learning,” said a fifth grade student who co-nominated Gemma.

The Financial Literacy Educator of the Year award recognizes teachers who excel in and out of the classroom to provide their students with the financial literacy skills they need to successfully navigate our complex financial system, the Office of the General Treasurer said in a news release.

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