Thomas Rudderow '06

"AIS inspired me to give back. Looking back, one common interest among all of my AIS friends is community service. It's in our DNA."

- Thomas Rudderow '06
How did you get involved with the Investment Club?

AIS is truly a special community and I find myself coming back to reconnect with my favorite teachers or to meet up with fellow alumni at events (not to mention all the delicious food at Worldfest each year). After years of discussions about the need for personal finance in school curriculums, I saw an opportunity to teach the importance of healthy finances through the Investment Club. A friend suggested the Stock Market Game to spark the conversation and attract a crowd.

What inspired you to return to AIS as an alum and give back to the students here?

At the expense of sounding corny, AIS inspired me to give back. Looking back, one common interest among all of my AIS friends is community service. It's in our DNA.

What does the Investment Club do?

The AIS Investment Club is a focused group of high school students that both compete in the Stock Market Game and discuss various personal finance topics. About half of our time is dedicated to understanding the stock market and the characteristics of different investments, while the other half of our time is learning about the value of money, impact of taxes, and what smart decisions we can make to avoid big financial mistakes. Personal finance is all about risk management, so if we can identify big mistakes to avoid, perhaps we will be better suited to navigate life's many obstacles.

What were some of the highlights of the year for the investment club?

While I'm proud to say we got 1st place in Atlanta and 5th place in the state for the Stock Market Game, I'd say my favorite highlight of the year was Senior Day. PO President, Kristin Dean, and I built a "Game of Life" scenario where AIS seniors budgeted for one semester in college. Many of the students received thousands of dollars in fake money at the beginning of the semester only to find that rent and meal plans ate away 80% of their funds. Some of the reactions were really quite funny.

What were you thinking as the year progressed and you saw them doing so well? 

Honestly, my goal with introducing the Stock Market Game was to teach the students how quickly a bad decision would burn away their money. Each team (3 - 5 students) received $100,000 to invest but only had 10 weeks to maximize their earnings, so I was hoping that we could learn from a few mistakes. So when I saw that one of our teams reached 30% gains in just a few weeks, I wanted to make sure they didn't think that investing was so easy. With only a 10 week timeframe, much of the game is luck. I thought we would have a few big losses that we could compare against more diversified investments and discuss the importance of limiting mistakes. Luckily, our Spring 2018 session gave us some good material to discuss in Fall 2018.

How did you feel representing AIS, this time as an alum leader, at the Fox Theatre?

Hopefully, our 9th grade team had as much fun as I did at the Fox Theatre's Egyptian Ballroom for the SIFMA Stock Market Game awards. The field trip definitely brought back memories of basketball or class field trips, so the nostalgia was meaningful as well.

What other ways have you been able to get involved with AIS since starting the Investment Club?

Since starting the Investment Club, I've started working with some of the parents and faculty to develop Senior Day events as well as educational sessions outside the club hours. We are also working with some very entrepreneurial Emory students to pilot an interactive application for the Investment Club. We plan to launch Fall 2018, so stay tuned for more soon!

Are there any words of wisdom or encouragement you would offer to other alumni who are considering ways to give back? What about for alumni who are not local?

For starters, staying engaged in the AIS alumni community is essential. Reach out to your AIS friends and get coffee. Reconnect. Call a friend you haven't spoken to in years. One of the hardest parts of being an Atlanta-native AIS alumni is that everyone seems to move away! Staying in touch requires active engagement. Pick up the phone and don't rely on others to do it for you. To be involved you have to stay connected.

For those who want to give back, AIS is certainly welcoming but you have to find a need and then follow your passion. Starting the Investment Club has not been easy; staying with it and building momentum is key. I'm certainly willing to introduce other alumni that are in town throughout the year and would love to have a helping hand. Feel free to contact me if you're interested in helping out or have questions about how to get more involved in the community.

Atlanta International School

A private, non-profit, international, IB World School for grades 3K-12, featuring full and dual-immersion language programs.

2890 North Fulton Drive

Atlanta, Georgia 30305, USA