Destina LaRue outsmarts her fifth graders

Susan EspirituHalls

I want to introduce you to Destina LaRue, fifth-grade teacher at Copper Ridge Elementary.

Destina says, “I have been teaching at The Ridge for 12 years. I’ve always loved it at The Ridge, which is truly a magical school.  As a teacher, there are lots of things that are important to me. I enjoy fostering a culture of respect, empathy and open communication, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, which is the foundation on which my classroom is built.

“My ultimate goal is to teach my students the importance of creating a safe space where they can learn and grow without fear of judgment or ridicule, to love one another and to have FUN! By building these strong relationships, creating a supportive environment, and going the extra mile to help all my students succeed, I truly believe it makes a lasting impression in the lives of those that I teach. We are a team, a FAMILY! We start together and we end together. That’s how we roll in my classroom. Being a team means we work together; we learn from each other and we learn how to lean on each other for support.”

Destina found the isolation caused by the pandemic wreaked havoc on the former classroom management systems so after a year of dealing with the highest levels of office referrals and extreme misbehavior she had ever witnessed as a fifth-grade teacher, she began researching to figure out what was going on and how she could make a better impact on the lives of her students. She found she was not the only educator with the same struggles and this was happening to numerous educators, nationwide.

She says, “That is when I stumbled upon the website Classroom Economy. This program enables any educator to teach children financial responsibility through fun, experiential learning while teaching students how to self-regulate and advocate for themselves. After many hours reading up on this program I knew I had to implement it into my classroom, so in 2022-2023 that is what I started doing.”

Destina focuses on the mission, vision and motto of Copper Ridge Elementary: to grow lifelong learners who are responsible citizens of high moral character; to provide students with a safe learning environment that inspires all individuals to reach their full potential; I will work hard today because hard work pays off!

In her LaRue Bucks economy, the simple classroom economic system is based on the idea that students need to earn LaRue bucks so that they can rent their own desks, pay for water and electricity and buy extras when they save money.

Destina says the one thing that her students also really enjoy about the classroom economy is they are assigned a job, just like in the real world and they get paid for it.  By bringing the real-world scenarios into her classroom, students see the impact of their decisions to save, spend, budget and help them become a citizen of moral character by doing things within the school that will help them earn money but also boost the morale within the school building and within themselves.

As a huge advocate for this classroom economy, Destina sets an example to demonstrate ways to earn extra income. She streams on Whatnot with a live auction selling all kinds of collectibles like coins, notes, cards, belt buckles, funko pops, hats, jerseys, minifigs and bricks, squish mallows, marvel/dc figurines, video games. She says, “I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!! I love expressing my excitement to all my students and showing them all the endless possibilities for ways to earn extra money!”

Destina is married, sharing six children together. They also have four dogs, two bunnies and three birds. She enjoys taking her side-by-side out on the trails for a good muddin’ adventure and says, “Anything outdoors is where I love to be (hiking, boating, swimming, relaxing)! Being at the lake or the mountains is my ultimate HAPPY PLACE!”

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