Saddle River Day School is in the Business of Teaching Business

Saddle River Day School is in the Business of Teaching Business
Gretchen Lee

Teaching the Business and Entrepreneurship classes at Saddle River Day School is not Jason Carini’s first rodeo. In fact, his current tenure at Saddle River Day School isn’t his first association with the school either. He was a student at SRDS during his middle school years, attended Bergen Catholic for high school, Carnegie Mellon for college, and then went on to have a successful two decade career in finance. After retiring from his job as a fixed income trader, he decided his second act would be to teach, making him a highly qualified candidate to teach a B&E course designed to give students the practical tools and knowledge they would need to also be successful in the business world. And so, rather than relying on a textbook, students are taught through case studies, real world examples, and personal anecdotes. The goal is to give students a taste of what it’s like to analyze or run a business.

Students in SRDS's Business and Entrepreneurship classes know what to do when they arrive in the classroom each day. The first order of business is to update their Excel spreadsheets with data regarding the current price of gold, the Dow Jones Industrial average, gross domestic product indices, current unemployment percentages, the Consumer Price Index, 2-year and 10-year treasury yield, and just for fun, data on how bitcoin is doing that day. Armed with this information, students are able to make inferences and predictions about the state of the economy and the way the markets might move. And because keeping these spreadsheets current is basically watching history happen in real time, the topics he teaches; Economics, accounting, and marketing, feel relevant to students who learn far better when they are interested and invested in the subject matter. 

Business and Entrepreneurship classes are open to students from the 7th grade and up. Students in B&E I receive an introductory overview of micro- and macroeconomics, as well as all aspects of business including finance, accounting, and marketing. In B&E II the focus is primarily on marketing. Students study the four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion) and then put what they’ve learned into practice by developing a product for a mini Shark Tank style presentation. 

This early introduction to the Shark Tank formula comes in handy in the upper grades as B&E III and B&E IV students participate in a Shark Tank style competition. Being exposed to the process of taking a product from conception, through development, funding, and finally to market, is also helpful training for students who choose to participate in Saddle River Day School’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). SRDS students who compete in FBLA events regularly place well enough to advance to the next level of competition, a testimony to the academic foundation they are receiving through their classwork. Additionally, a new course has been added titled the ‘Closing Bell’ where students learn about options, equities, and fixed income trading. Students are also given the opportunity to trade a few options with any profit they make going towards helping to fund the prom.  

But succeeding in the business world involves far more than competitions and spreadsheets. Students must also have the skills to make connections, impress in interviews, represent themselves effectively in both written and verbal communications, and back it all up with a strong work ethic and a can-do attitude. That’s why another facet of the curriculum includes resume and cover letter writing, crafting answers to the seven most asked interview questions, and externships in the community in which they get to put their knowledge into practice and add pertinent work experience to their resume. 

In his two years at SRDS, Mr. Carini has made himself at home and credits SRDS’s famously close knit community for helping him settle in. The goals – other than expanding the Business and Entrepreneurship curriculum to include dedicated economics classes and a business law class – are to empower and inspire students to think outside the box, dare to try new things, take calculated risks, and pursue their big ideas, even when other people don’t immediately share their vision... just another way that Saddle River Day School is continuing to give students the tools they'll need to be the leaders and innovators of a rapidly advancing, ever changing world.