By Rob Merrilees, Founder, Spot Trading LLC

Some of us have been fortunate in our lives to meet a teacher who inspires us, challenges us and plants the seeds for a future we never dreamed we could have. I am one of thousands of former students inspired by Hank Kauffman, who taught math for 52 years at my high school in St. Louis. Hank was so influential in my life that I believe I may never have started Spot Trading if he hadn’t entered my life. I named my first son after him. I had him officiate my wedding. And I recently nominated him to represent the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB’s “People [Magazine] All-Star Teachers” Contest presented by Target.

Now Hank is one of three finalists for that honor, and I ask my friends and colleagues in the industry to take a moment out of your day (from now until June 29) to cast your vote for him here ( so he can receive formal recognition as the All-Star so many of us already believe he is. Feel free to vote early and often, in the true Chicago tradition. It’s even encouraged.

Hank taught algebra and calculus, but he taught us far more about life. As a teacher, he was funny, friendly and inspirational, and he instilled great confidence. Little did we know he was a widower and single father, raising three kids on his own and overcoming true tragedy. He’s the kind of teacher all of us parents hope our kids will have, and he remains one of my most cherished friends to this day.

You can read more about Hank and the contest at Thanks for your support.

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