A Lesson on Stock Markets from an Alum

By Middle and Upper School Director of Studies Sven Carlsson
Alum James Hulsizer ’17 returned to campus recently to treat Upper School Applied Algebra students to a three-day curricular tour of the stock market.

In anticipation of this opportunity, Hulsizer invested an immense amount of time developing a lesson plan that would inform and engage students, while preparing them to play a game he designed specifically for the class that would replicate the necessary thinking to strategically invest in the stock market—and his efforts paid huge dividends for those involved!

The first two days of learning focused on investing, dividends, buyouts, liability, market uncertainty and what a stock actually is—exploring the concept of what “ownership” means. Students had a remarkable amount of existing knowledge, e.g., you should buy low and sell high, and asked excellent questions, probing Hulsizer about private companies, what brokers do and how currency fluctuations factor into all of this. Hulsizer surprised the students several weeks later, coming back for a third day to lead them in an investment strategy game he created, wherein students had an opportunity to play the stock market for five rounds during a period dating from January 15, 2019 to January 10, 2023. Students began with $100,000, the option to place that money into the stock market (Netflix, Meta, Lululemon, Chipotle and Starbucks, which pays a dividend) or Government Bills (paying the historical interest rates). With each round, the value of the students’ shares varied (again, according to the actual historical values—Hulsizer did a lot of research to make this game possible) as did the free cash they received from dividends and interest from their Treasury Bills, so students had a lot of freedom in adopting strategies to maximize their earnings. Students were able to buy and sell shares of the five stocks (and put money into Treasury Bills) with the express purpose of maximizing the total value of their portfolio at the end of the game.

This was a tremendous experience for the students in the class, and I’m still quite awestruck by how much effort and time Hulsizer put into designing this activity. Progressive schools are about agency and equipping students to invest in others, and Hulsizer’s willingness to spend his limited time as a college student with freshmen at his alma mater in such a creative, educational way is exemplary. The complexity of the game, which involved students strategically using historically accurate information from investor reports and dealing with the unexpected, since the simulation takes place during COVID-19, was really quite breathtaking.

It is always great to welcome alumni back to the school, and it's all the better when the students return as the teachers! Thanks James!

You can enjoy photos from this experience here.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.