WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Kenneth Walter strove to find ways to engage students during his career as an adjunct professor in The School of Financial Planning at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Walter relinquished his teaching duties due to time constraints when he was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of his former place of employment.
Walter is currently Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for The Westchester Bank, but feels he perhaps found a future job when his business career ends.
“I enjoyed it because I was dealing with adults rather than children,’’ Walter said. “I didn’t have to take attendance. It was a more relaxed atmosphere. I felt like I made a big difference. At the end of each session I was evaluated by the students and most of the reviews were positive. I had students call and thank me for the way that I approached the course.”
Walter taught taxation and other business related classes. Hardly the most engaging of topics, Walter tried to create an atmosphere that challenged the students but also kept them focused.
“I approached it two ways,’’ he said. “I paraphrased in my own words the important aspects of a 30-page chapter. As I taught a certain section, I’d give them two or three examples to enhance what I was speaking about. The second thing was I’d ask the class if anyone could give me an example that they may have had in real life. It was more of a dialogue than reading from a textbook.”
Walter’s career path to his current position, and even his job as a teacher, was hardly set in stone from a young age. He remembers attending St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey for high school and taking a basic accounting class. “The teacher made it interesting and I enjoyed it,’’ he said. “But when I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
After his first two years at Montclair State, Walter faced a deadline to declare a major. “I sat with my guidance counselor and still didn’t know what I wanted to do in terms of business,’’ he said. “I remembered the accounting class in high school and said put me down for accounting. The rest is history.”
Walter’s passion for his work unfolds in his conversation. That obviously influenced his students, who could feel that dry subject matter did not necessarily mean boring. “I tried to make it as interesting as possible for such a boring subject,’’ Walter said. “One of the things I would say in class is that debits are to the left by the windows and credits are to the right by the door. I made it very basic at the start.”
Walter’s work at the Bank is far more complicated. Yet he brings the same energy and passion that he had in the classroom to his daily work.
“You have to laugh in life,’’ he said. “There are no problems, only solutions. That’s the way I look at life. We have a great team here at The Westchester Bank that laughs together and works hard together.”