By ANDREW ZERMAN ‘18 and ALEC STIMAC ‘19
Mr. Dan Hess ‘88 of the History Department has been teaching economics to the students of Saint Ignatius High School for many years. Being knowledgeable of how businesses and economies operate, Mr. Hess teamed up with the tech-savvy Mr. Jarc to create an online Personal Finance Course.
The company is named Ignite! Personal Finance Online Education, and as stated on its website and haiku page, the company’s goal is to make the topic of Personal Finance Education more interesting and appealing to teenagers and young adults. According to both Mr. Hess and Mr. Jarc, the idea for the company was rooted in delivering a personal finance course to students in a practical way while expressing their entrepreneurial spirits.
They accomplish this goal by combining lectures, independent projects, printables, and even stand up comedy, since both believe that humor is a good tool for learning. Their desire to integrate humor in their course should not come as a surprise, considering that both graduated from Saint Ignatius and that they have spent a combined 35 years in this all boys environment.
When describing why he and Mr. Hess decided to tackle the project, Mr. Jarc stated, “We’re innovative teachers who like to challenge convention and try new things. This opportunity afforded us both – trying new ways to provide instruction, technical challenges, and the desire to build a product that could be useful, meaningful, and eventually profitable. It’s always a challenge to ‘practice what you preach’ when it comes to innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. This is/was our golden moment of opportunity”
But this project was no easy job. It took them three years to complete, and they had to film each of the 20 videos on their own time. Additionally, the videos had to be edited and processed in order to make the course as simple as possible. Another challenge to this project was to make it fully compatible across multiple devices. There is currently an iPad version of the book, and a PDF version that is compatible on all devices.
A personal finance education course is now required in 29 of the 50 states for graduation. Unfortunately, most schools are jamming the curriculum into history or health classes, so they are falling short. An advantage of the course created by Mr. Hess and Mr. Jarc is that it can be completed on your own or guided by a teacher. In fact, the course is going to be offered in the summer. They say that their product is built to meet the demands of high schools and colleges across the country. “Take time to think” as Mr. Hess would say. Finance is important and the skills you’ll learn will be applicable for the rest of your life.