Economics teacher integrates field experience into classroom
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Economics teacher Mr. Jeff Waterman started investing when he was nine years old. He developed a love of the stock market and the concept of investing himself, which led him to pursue a degree in economics at Northwestern University.
After college, he went straight into the private sector to work in banking. He then founded a brokerage firm, acquired an insurance agency, and created an investment advisory: Vision Investments, Vision Insurance, and Vision Asset Management. He worked in the private sector for nine years, and then, at the age of 30, he sold his businesses and retired.
Now, he is an economics teacher at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South high schools.
After getting bored with retirement, he went back to Northwestern. In 2005, he got a master’s of education in order to pursue a second career as a teacher.
“In the previous jobs that I have had, I have always enjoyed being involved in roles where I was teaching people new skills,” Waterman said. “I had a great experience both in college and in high school, and a lot
of really inspirational teachers along the way who I still keep in touch with.”
Waterman reports he had friends who taught, and they told him the job would suit him. This motivated him to get his second degree and student teach so he would be a qualified high school teacher.
After he graduated for the second time, his resumé caught the eye of Hinsdale South. They promptly hired him to teach in the district.
Waterman said his experience in the field has impacted his teaching.
“The stories I bring in are all real,” Waterman said, “I bring a sense of reality to the class. It’s no longer just theoretical, I can talk about things that have actually happened that relate to what we’re doing.”
His students also believe his experience has a positive impact on his teaching.
“Entrepreneurship seems to run in his family,” said Gabbie Chang, senior in macroeconomics. “In class, he shares with us crazy stories about business deals his grandpa made. He loves to tell us about his experiences in the field.”
Although Waterman is teaching AP courses, he incorporates his own spin on the traditional lessons. He compared notes with the other AP Macro teacher, Mr. Brian Mitchell, to make sure they both covered all of the required material from College Board. However, they both bring in their own additions to the course.
Every other Friday in Waterman’s Macro course is a “Personal Finance Friday.” During these days, his classes take a break from their curriculum to talk about the financial aspects of being an adult, in order to familiarize his seniors with issues they will encounter in adulthood. They discuss student loans, basics of investing, saving for retirement, and credit scores.
“Those wind up being some of the most fun, and some of the most questions come from the kids who are learning about [personal finance],” Waterman said.
Students report feeling impacted by his teaching, and say he has enhanced their understanding of economics tremendously.
“I would say that because he was involved with the economy before he even thought to teach, he really has a lot of good examples and ways of explaining the real-world applications,” said Maya Wolff, senior in Macro. “This helps with both understanding the topics better but also makes the class applicable versus just memorization.”
Waterman originally only taught at South, but he took over Mr. Dan Hartman’s position this year. He will continue teaching at both South and Central in the upcoming years. Waterman is still investing, however he does not manage his own investments anymore.
Sophie, a junior, is beginning her first year as a member of the Devils’ Advocate team. She also plays lacrosse at Central and is a mentor...