DECA — An Association of Marketing Students — has been around nationally since 1946. The lives of more than 10 million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals have felt the impact of this association.

DECA’s marketing education is an experience that can serve young people well as they progress through life. Since it is a real-life experience for students, it helps with critical life decisions in the future.

Central High School enjoys two of the most dedicated marketing/DECA teachers in the profession, Harry Gaylor and Vicki Wiles. Together, Gaylor and Wiles have 78 years of combined service to marketing/DECA. And going the extra mile to help their students just comes naturally to them.

These teachers are excited about students learning real-world stuff like management, financing, pricing, promotion, communication and interpersonal skills, to name a few. Many of the students participate in internships and experience the working world that they will soon be entering. Both Gaylor and Wiles do everything they can to help their students reach success, especially stressing time management.

Years ago, our sons took these classes at Central under the tutelage of both Gaylor and Wiles. (Wiles was just out of college.) Now, our granddaughter is enjoying the marketing education and DECA experiences, including going to state and national competitions.

One son said, “I really appreciate how much I learned about business and marketing from Mr. Gaylor and Mrs. Wiles. It not only helped me in college, but also in my chosen career. I remember laughing when Mr. Gaylor sometimes told of antics his small son nicknamed Grizzly would perform.”

I asked both teachers what they liked most about teaching marketing/DECA.

Gaylor said, “I like the involvement with students, businesses, community and the constantly changing career options ... and working with students as they prepare for their futures. ... I thoroughly enjoy preparing students to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes that will distinguish them from their competitors in the real world.”

I was especially happy to hear Gaylor say he likes associating with students and parents with a variety of backgrounds and cultures. It is so apparent that both he and Wiles celebrate diversity.

As a black female, I cannot count the number of times that when my husband and I have eaten out together at a restaurant, the white waitress or waiter have put the bill next to my plate at the end of the meal assuming I would be paying. In asking white women I know if this is their experience, the answer was invariably no: The bill was always put next to their husbands.

A great deal can be learned when teachers embrace diversity in their classrooms, especially in classes where students learn about interacting with different races and cultures in the workplace and society in general.

So, when I see teachers, like Wiles and Gaylor, who celebrate diversity and prepare their students for a world of diverse people, it gives me hope for a better world in the future.

Wiles said that working with students in so many different environments allows her to get to know students more in depth.

“We aren’t just spending 40 minutes in the classroom together. I visit them in their place of employment, we do volunteering/community service together, we work on team projects, go to competitions and we travel together. Through these competitions and leadership opportunities we get to experience the ‘thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ ”

Edward Bennett, Central High’s principal, strives for excellence in every area. He said, “Mrs. Wiles enthusiasm and dedication to the Central marketing program have ensured its ongoing success. She is a true ambassador for marketing, public education, and Central High School.”

Gaylor, Bennett said, “is a living legend. His devotion to Central High School and the marketing program have spanned decades. He also knows a thing or two about wrestling.

“I have been so fortunate to work with Wiles and Gaylor over the years. They are consummate educators who share their creative ideas and positive energy with students and colleagues. They make us all better!”

Wow, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Central could have another 78 years with Gaylor and Wiles spreading their love of students, teaching, and extraordinary guidance through the halls of the school?

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