In her years at Shawnee Mission East, marketing teacher Mercedes Rasmussen has undoubtedly heard this school compared to many things. But Disneyland— that one, she hadn’t heard. At least, not until fellow marketing teacher Amanda Doane’s first day.
This sentiment— that Shawnee Mission East is truly the happiest place on Earth— is what brought Doane to East in the first place.
This is Doane’s dream job. She has been wanting to teach business and marketing at East since she first moved to the area in 2006. Now, 11 years later, she can finally call herself a Lancer. Her students are now her neighbors, and the jobs she is preparing them for in class are just down the street.
That’s the main reason Doane decided to make the switch after 11 years at Olathe South High School: because of the impact she has at East, an impact that she can see the results of in her own neighborhood. The skills taught in her class are helping her students get jobs — and be successful in them — whether it be at the Hen House right down the street, her favorite boutique or TCBY.
“I’m preparing them — especially in a career in technical education course — I’m really preparing them for jobs in this community, in my community,” Doane said. “It’s just so rewarding.”
Doane may teach marketing, but her class is truly about learning skills with real-world application. She has her students writing ad campaigns, printing ads and planning pricing for companies, all concepts that will be invaluable to the business world both in and outside of the East community.
“Everything is a project,” Doane said. “Because you have to do it. You can’t just learn about it.”
Doane’s hands-on approach and love for teaching was born in a rather unlikely place.
As a grad student, she spent her Sunday nights sitting at her parent’s kitchen table doing trigonometry homework. She was tutoring her younger sister— not exactly a glamorous job, nor a well-paying one; however, neither is teaching. But Doane wasn’t in it for money, and she certainly wasn’t in it for fame. She was in it for the feeling she got when she heard that her sister had passed the class. It’s a feeling that she now gets every time she completes a lesson, or every time one of her students aces a test: a feeling of pure joy, of knowing that her knowledge has helped to advance someone else’s learning.
She has been teaching ever since.
Doane discovered her passion for teaching in grad school, but it was when she moved to Prairie Village that she found the place she wanted to put that passion to use—here, at Shawnee Mission East.
While it is a dream of hers to work here, there have certainly been some major changes from her last school. After her first day, she went to fellow marketing teacher Mercedes Rasmussen with a concern— All of her students had said thank you after leaving her class. She was wondering if that was normal— it had never happened to her before.
“It just reminded me to be thankful for all the little things here,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve been here for so long that sometimes I forget to be.”
This friendship between Doane and Rasmussen has been growing for nearly 11 years now, and it’s another reason Doane was so excited about getting a job at East. The two first met at a DECA competition while Doane was still teaching at Olathe South.
“I actually started DECA at Olathe South, and when I met [Rasmussen] she helped me answer a lot of questions at the beginning,” Doane said. “She’s a really great mentor and so working with her is a dream.”
DECA is one of Doane’s favorite aspects of marketing. At Olathe South, Doane served as the head DECA advisor; at East, she is the assistant DECA advisor to one of the largest DECA programs in the district.
“I love that it is creative, and it’s people-oriented. I also love that it’s teaching kids how to do something,” Doane said. “It’s a verb, and so you are really teaching a skill.”
The experience that Doane brings is a major asset to the marketing department and the DECA program. With over 250 students involved in marketing, and over 150 in DECA, Rasmussen needed another teacher to help her manage all of the participants.
“She comes in with the knowledge of teaching marketing for the last 10 years and is able to immediately assist me,” Rasmussen said. “And she has taught the curriculum, so she has all sorts of awesome ideas.”
So when Doane first interviewed for the job, Rasmussen was the first person she called.
“She said to me, ‘Mercedes, I’ve got to get this job.’,” Rasmussen said. “She lives in this community, she’s a part of this community, her kids are going to come to school here, this is her dream job.”
Doane’s enthusiasm for East, the community and marketing are evident in her classroom. She’s constantly willing to help and establishes a collaborative environment for her students.
“She makes business seem interesting, and she talks about all of the different options within business,” junior Gretchen Ternus said. “She’s really opened up my mind to the business world.”
So as Doane continues her transition to East and her work in the marketing department, she keeps one goal in mind for the future.
“I want to be able to provide a rich experience for students that is real world,” Doane said. “I want to pull in students that maybe didn’t know that they had an interest in business or marketing, and provide them with opportunities to excel.”