Jane Hassan is known throughout Findlay for her passion for learning and education. Although many people now recognize her as the owner of the Smarty Pants store downtown, Hassan has been actively involved in the homeschool community and other areas of education for many years.
A perfect blend
Hassan’s life experience has prepared her well for the role of an educational store owner. With a degree in education from the University of Findlay, two decades of substitute teaching, homeschooling and working at three libraries (including 5 years at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library – her “favorite place of all”) the transformation into educational retail was natural, even if unexpected.
Although she wasn’t actively looking to become a business owner, when Hassan and her husband, Brian, learned that the educational store in Findlay was for sale in early 2017, the couple decided the opportunity was “basically a no brainer.”
They had occasionally discussed the idea of owning a small business that would allow them to work together with their children, who they had been homeschooling for years. Since the youngest children were heading into high school, the timing was perfect.
Jane says she fell into the role of being a local homeschool mentor. As her children grew and she found she had more time on her hands, Hassan spent a lot of time researching. She began sharing information on a blog (since retired) and had a knack for connecting people and guiding parents who were trying to navigate through the homeschooling world. Her passion, compassion and expertise became an asset for many in the local homeschool community.
One of Hassan’s favorite ways of teaching is “stealth learning.” Jane explains “Children can learn academics, soft skills, social skills and more in fun ways, without them even realizing they’re ‘learning.’” She has a fondness for card and board games for both learning and play, “both the way they’re intended and using the parts and pieces in unexpected ways as well. Kids love attention and interaction, so having adults play games with them is an easy way to get them engaged in learning something new or reinforcing a concept that needs practice.”
Hassan’s passion for fun learning is evident. “I love puzzle books, logic puzzles, word puzzles, numbers or math and mazes– they were my favorite growing up, I still have them all over my house, in my car and whatever bag I’m carrying, and I always have a good supply in the store.