Getting students hooked on business at Stillwater Area High School

Debbie Drommerhausen is the sole member of the business department at Stillwater Area High School. She only teaches electives, but she manages to keep students signing up for her classes. (Pony Express staff photo)

Debbie Drommerhausen only teaches electives at Stillwater Area High School, but she manages to keep students signing up for her classes. (Pony Express staff photo)

Editor’s note: This piece is provided through Hoof Prints, a partnership between the Stillwater Gazette and The Pony Express, Stillwater Area High School’s student newspaper. See more teen views and news from the Pony Express each Wednesday in the Gazette.

BY PAUL HUDACHEK – PONY EXPRESS

Marketing teacher Debbie Drommerhausen is wearing shorts to school. Yes, it is Friday, but it is also November, and Drommerhausen is wearing shorts. Her only reason: “I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to worry about what to wear.” Be wary of letting her wardrobe define her, however. Drommerhausen is always “on” as far as teaching goes.

Drommerhausen prefaces her interview with a quick, “I really don’t like to talk about myself,” and only starts after several promises that it would be speedy and painless. She pulls two desks from the back row of her 40-desk classroom — one for each year of teaching — and sits down, ready to pump out the interview during her study hour.

Drommerhausen is the only marketing teacher at Stillwater Area High School. She has a full schedule of students, and her classes are consistently filled to brim. She puts a heavy focus on ensuring that students enjoy her class and realize the importance marketing will have in their futures.

“That’s what marketing is, it’s a little bit of everything,” Drommerhausen said. “Marketing is everything, that’s what I tell my students. When you apply to college, you are marketing yourself. Same with applying for a job. I strongly believe that everyone utilizes marketing in some way or another during their lives.”

Students have to like Drommerhausen’s classes. Period. Otherwise she does not have any courses to teach. That is a downside to running a whole department alone, especially one composed entirely of elective classes.

“Teaching is a funny job, that way,” she said. “You have to appeal to the masses and try to get them all motivated. They say ‘business is boring,’ but all they want to do is talk about their phones, new technology and all of that is business. They are sitting right in the middle of it. They just don’t realize it.”

Many teachers cannot even fathom instilling excitement and interest into teenagers the way Drommerhausen does. She makes a conscious effort to connect with every single one of her students on a personal level, and it seems to pay off.

“When I start the hour, I make small talk with, hopefully, all of them. I do love my students, I know it sounds weird, but I do,” she said. “I have my slogan, ‘Everybody Love Everybody,’ and it has been on my board for six years. I treat everyone like my son or daughter.”

Drommerhausen puts a lot of her attention and energy into finding interesting and exciting things to pepper into her classes.

“We have a lot of speakers, two a month,” she said. “I am part of BestPrep, and they help me provide these speakers. I’ve had people from 3M, the Minnesota state fair, Ecolab, Dairy Queen, Cargill, the list goes on and on. And every year it’s different. We even have a tour of Andersen Windows in May.”

Of all her funky, exciting activities, the most popular, and arguably the most educational, is the stock market game.

“We do the stock market game for 14 weeks,” she said. “The stock marketing game is really popular, kids love it. Parents love it, too. They love getting to talk to their kids about finances. It started out when some kids found the brochure in the pile of mail on my desk. They said, ‘let’s do this.’ I said, ‘I don’t know anything about this,’ and they said, ‘Neither do we.’ So I told myself, ‘Why not?’ And now it is one of the biggest parts of my class. I have students and parents who call to make sure I am still doing the stock market game when they are enrolling, even.”

Even the driest parts of Drommerhausen’s curriculum are intoxicating to students, because she creates a strong business culture in her classroom.

“This is my passion,” she said. “This is probably their first business class, and business is what runs the world. I always have CNBC on, and kids will look at it sometimes, check things out. We talk about things like twitter being public, things like that. Christmas I get all fired up, all those ads on TV. We talk about Christmas and football ads in here too. I remind people ‘sports is a business,’ there’s all that money in those sports.”

It all boils down to this: Drommerhausen certainly knows how to market her marketing class.

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