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Marc Sterling isn?t your typical high school teacher. The Sedona Red Rock High School Career and Technical Education instructor uses unique techniques to teach students real life skills related to business, real estate and investing.
By Sandi Greene
Larson Newspapers

Marc Sterling isn?t your typical high school teacher. The Sedona Red Rock High School Career and Technical Education instructor uses unique techniques to teach students real life skills related to business, real estate and investing.

You won?t find a motto about ?being all you can be? in this classroom. Instead, the quote painted on the wall is by Donald Trump: ?It?s time America was run like a business.?

Besides his own personal experience, Sterling uses Trump?s show ?The Apprentice,? his books and his principles to teach students.

?I like how it?s like real life,? accounting student Chris Kamas said. ?He gets to the point and starts applying it to our lives.?

Textbooks are rarely used. Instead, students are divided into teams and made to work on projects together, similar to the show ?The Apprentice.?

?In each class, students are mixed grades nine through 12, and I?ve found that they learn from each other,? Sterling said. ?I encourage learning from hands-on, real-life situations.?

Currently, students are painting murals on the walls of the school hallways. Each mural has to relate to business and the area of study that the building is used for: drama, science, math and so forth.

?The students draw the murals on paper first and get them approved,? Sterling said. ?Then they get to paint the walls. They really enjoy it.?

The CTE classes are Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education funded and include accounting, business, marketing and career exploration.

?All students are in class at the same time, but I can cover a lot of the core competencies for all of them at the same time,? explained Sterling, who worked with the Arizona Department of Education to create the accounting competencies.

?I emphasize how important it is for the kids to come into the classroom with a positive attitude. With that positive attitude, they are more receptive to learning,? Sterling said.

Projects for the class include designing marketing plans, designing businesses, putting on silent auctions, real estate projects, stock market plans and going to work at restaurants.

?The class has inspired me to look more into going into business as a career,? Kamas said. ?We get to go to the businesses and do the real thing, not just in the classroom.?

This past year, students worked at Wildflower Bread Co. and had to promote the event to the public, hire entertainment and decorate. Money raised in the class goes to support Future Business Leaders of America, buy class supplies and provide prizes for the games Sterling holds at the end of the school year.

Current events are also important in this classroom.

?Students are encouraged to stay up to date with the news,? Sterling emphasized. ?We review the USA Today, using it as a reference, watch Fox News and CNN, research articles on the Internet and the radio. Students present and discuss various topics in class.?

?I like that he?s teaching us stuff we can use in real life when we move on,? business student Nick Lloyd said. ?It really helps with leadership skills, too.?

Sterling has more than 25 years of experience with taxes and accounting. He decided on a career change when he realized the most important time of his life was in high school.

?I had many teachers that influenced me, and I wanted to share my knowledge with the adults of tomorrow,? he said.

In addition to having taught all the CTE classes for the last five years, Sterling heads up the school?s FBLA program, which does community service projects and participates in competitions.

?I encourage students to get involved with the community,? he said. ?For example, my students have been asked to work various dinner functions for the Elks lodge and continue to be asked back each year due to the professional manner in which they handle themselves.?

Parents play a big role in Sterling?s drive as well.

?They continue to call me, thanking me for doing what I?m doing. That?s why I know I?m making a difference,? he said.

Sterling said he loves what he does and especially loves the difference the class makes in the future of the students.

?One student last week said to me, ?You tricked us into learning by having us do the tasks where we had fun and didn?t even realize we were learning.? I love that,? he said.


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