By Mary Catherine Machalec
Special to The Texas Catholic
It’s never too early to learn business.
That’s the prevailing attitude at Mary Immaculate Catholic School in Farmers Branch, which is in the middle of making history with the first year of their new business program.
“We want our students to be successful on earth and in heaven. Business touches so many aspects of the human experience, and we wanted to give our students a lifelong skill, something they will use for the rest of their lives,” said Father Alfonse Nazzaro, who serves as the pastoral administrator of the school and had the initial inspiration for founding the program.
The business program was developed for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Mary Immaculate Catholic School. It spans the topics of personal finance, financial markets, emerging business technologies, and business plan development, with each grade level having customized content that is age appropriate.
Although at first glance, these concepts might seem too advanced for middle schoolers, the director of the business program has been pleasantly surprised by how well the students can retain and remember.
“I taught this content at the MBA level, and since it is relatively the same curriculum I thought it would go over their heads,” said
Anthony Pulido, who previously worked as a professor at Rice University and the University of Dallas. “But the students really do understand the concepts, it’s just about putting them in simpler terms so they can understand the principles behind it.”
Pulido not only directs the program, but also teaches the classes, including some occasional lessons to the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes when applicable. Pulido said he tries to emphasize the moral principles of business, so the students can make decisions that reflect the values of their Catholic faith and one day incorporate those into their businesses.
“I want to teach the students that business is not just about making money and having nice things. But what are the principles behind your work? Did you treat people with respect, did you honor them? Did you treat your employees and customers with dignity? Those are the aspects of the Catholic faith we want to integrate into the business world,” Pulido said.
The ultimate end of the program is not simply to teach business concepts, but help the students realize that the business world and a Catholic identity do not have to be separate. The principal of the school, Sister Mary Anne Zuberbueler, O.P., sees the program as an essential part of the mission of Mary Immaculate Catholic School.
“Our goal is to form saints and scholars. I want our students to know that living a virtuous life doesn’t mean you can’t be successful,” she recounted. “Being a good responsible citizen actually demands you know your faith, understand ethical business practices and then integrate them in your life.”
As the first year of the program continues, more aspects will continue to be developed, including a speaker series of business leaders in the DFW metroplex and a golf program to give students familiarity with the unofficial sport of business. And hopefully, students will graduate from the business program not only with intellectual formation in the world of business, but as good citizens who are more integrated, more whole, more holy.