EAST HANOVER, NJ- For Hanover Park High School teacher Jaime Ott, getting laid off after working for 13 years in the computer consulting field was a blessing in disguise. “Sometimes we wonder why God works the way he does, but for me it was just a perfect situation,” he said. “Some might think that losing your job is the worst thing that could happen, but I considered it divine providence.”
Ott went on to explain that, after a failed job search in his previous field, his wife asked him, “Well, what do you WANT to do for the rest of your life?” And his thoughtful answer was, “I think I’d like to teach.”
This past June, Ott finished his seventh year teaching in the business department of his home town’s high school. His classes include Personal Finance and Introduction to Business, and this coming school year he will be adding a sports marketing and management class to his schedule. However, Ott explained that his favorite class to teach, by far, is International Business Practice Firm (IBPF), which he described as a class in which the students start and run their own virtual business.
“They create it from the ground up; they market it; they create the website; they do the inventory; they do the buying and the selling,” he explained. “It gives them practical experience you just can’t get anywhere else.”
This past year, the IBPF students created a virtual reality company, a deli shop, and an athletic clothing line, but Ott explained that he saw the most “out-of-the-box” virtual start-up two years ago when his students created Pocket Pets, miniature electronic pets that fit in your pocket.
Though many students decide to pursue marketing or accounting after taking one of his classes, Ott also considers his work a success when students decide against the business field altogether. “To know that they’ve decided what they don’t want to do by being in my class, I’m pretty excited about that too,” he said, explaining that his classes also impart principles which can be applied to every area of life. “The skills you’re going to learn in my class are going to help you as you buy and as you attempt to sell yourself— whether it’s to a company to get employed, whether it is to a school to get a college education, or even to a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Reflecting back on his years as a teacher, Ott explained that he loves his “ability to interact with young people—to help them think through problem solving. To help them try to figure out things on their own.” He continued, “To tell them about my experience is one thing, but then to have them experience on their own and then figure out how to solve the problem, how to create the product, how to sell the product, that is just one of the greatest things about being a teacher—seeing that light bulb moment.”