SPARK TALKS WITH COLLEGIATE UPPER SCHOOL ECONOMICS TEACHER ROB WEDGE
Prior to joining Collegiate in 2004, Rob Wedge taught at Winchester High School in Massachusetts, then worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Massachusetts Council on Economic Education. Becky Shepherd, then the executive director of the Powell Endowment, recruited Mr. Wedge to Collegiate to teach economics. He sat down with Spark to talk about how the economics program has grown, what makes teaching here so special and what he hopes his students learn from his classes.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOUR STUDENTS DO THAT YOU APPRECIATE? When kids leave class every day, they will say thank you. That enduring gratitude that kids feel is one of the attractive things, for people who have been here a while, that keeps them here. I know it’s not always sincere. It is a habit when you say thank you but, still just hearing it on the way out of class every day from the kids, I like that.
WHAT MAKES TEACHING AT COLLEGIATE SO SPECIAL? What makes Collegiate special to me is how it is a family. And families are never perfect. Families can have disagreements and families can have tension, but at the end of the day, families still love each other and families come together to celebrate special moments. There are so many moments over my time here that I’ve seen those celebrations and special moments that make this an extended family. People are eager to share your joys, and the upside of families is that sometimes they get in your face when you screw up and that’s OK. It’s how you get better.
WHAT THREE WORDS DESCRIBE COLLEGIATE? Community has to be one of them. Challenging. Every day is a different challenge. And the last word is changing. I think we’re at a really interesting crossroads as an institution. At the end of the day, everyone and everything is constantly changing. To use the language of economics, equilibrium is a temporary state. There is always a pressure and it is about how you respond to the pressure. Hopefully the change makes you better.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLLEGIATE TRADITION? The one that I’m most involved in is Feast of Juul. Putting together Santa’s List is something I look forward to doing, for better or worse. It’s stressful because the kids tell you things that you never wanted to know. And some of them are really funny, but you know that you can’t use them in a public setting. It’s fun and it’s a bonding moment.
WHAT IS IT LIKE WHEN YOU SEE FORMER STUDENTS? It’s fascinating to see them grow up and become adults. One of my favorite moments was a couple of years ago when I took the incoming Darr-Davis presidents to New York. We sat down with some alums at a restaurant and had dinner. Hearing them tell stories about their work and what they were doing in life was just amazing.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? I’m really proud of the Deb Angstadt Wiffle Ball Tournament. I’m really glad that I helped give students the freedom to create that. I’m proud that I took a team to the National Fed Challenge. I’m proud of the fact that the year before I arrived at Collegiate, there were nine students enrolled in AP Economics. Last fall, I had four full sections and this spring I have three overfull sections. Some years I’ve topped five sections. So to grow a program from nine students to anywhere up to 85, I’m super proud of that. The fact that the Darr-Davis kids beat the S&P 500 almost every year. The fund has performed well enough that the School trusts us to have two funds. I’m proud of that. Outside of the classroom and outside of the academics, I’m coaching three seasons — Cub football in the fall, JV gold basketball in the winter and JV baseball in the spring. What I am most proud of is that I am influencing kids in many different ways and helping them grow up to, hopefully, become good people.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR STUDENTS LEAVE YOUR CLASS KNOWING? That there’s more to life than getting into college. Whether they continue to study economics or government in college, I don’t really care. What I really care about is that they grow up and become good people. That they become a good worker, a good mom, a good dad, a good husband, a good wife, a good son, a good daughter, whatever the case may be. Have we prepared these young people to become good adults? Whether or not they remember that the formula for finding the multiplier is one over MPC doesn’t matter. But if they realize that one good work multiplies into multiple good works, then I have had a positive impact.