Mentoring an Impact: DECA/Marketing 2017


Emily Cooper

The marketing students of East live at the end of the fifth floor, in the midst of the creative whirlwind that spins inside room 500A. They quickly type out spurts of campaign ideas sitting on the array of colored high tops, dangling their feet as they brainstorm. Glancing up to the front of the classroom, a set of red curls dances around as the face behind them laughs about the Oscar recaps. These curls belong to Mercedes Rasmussen; teacher, leader and friend of the marketing students of East.

Twenty-two years ago, Rasmussen’s iconic red hair came bouncing into East, marking the start of her successful and fulfilling career. Young and straight out of college, Rasmussen came to East to pursue her love of teaching.

During her first year, Rasmussen taught five different business classes, but the marketing branch always intrigued her the most. She began to teach only marketing and then brought the DECA to East – something she had participated in at her own high school.  

 Students in DECA participated in various roleplaying activities and tests over a marketing area of their choice. They attended competitions at schools all across Kansas for a unique blend of marketing and forensics, that instilled in them real-life experience of marketing and advertising. 

Ever since 1995, students have fallen in love with this unique program. East has held one of the biggest chapters of DECA in the entire school district for years, and it all traces back to Rasmussen. Many students and teachers alike believe that her passion and advertisement of the program was the reason for its popularity.

“In education, the enthusiasm and the enjoyment of the students is reflective of the enthusiasm and the enjoyment of the teacher,” principal John McKinney said. “The students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and the relationships that Mrs. Rasmussen has been able to create with her students is amazing.”

Although Rasmussen brought the DECA program to East and excelled through many academic standards, her lighthearted and caring personality drew students to her. She strived to make genuine connections with every student she had, in and out of the classroom.

“The most important thing a teacher can do is build relationships with their students,” Rasmussen said. “Your kids will get psyched to learn from you, and you get to learn more about them, so it’s a win-win.”

Whether it’s discussing testing techniques, last night’s episode of “The Bachelor” or even being a relationship counselor, Rasmussen was always there for her students- and it didn’t go unnoticed. 

“She is very positive and all around personable person,” senior Bennett Hense said. “She knows how to be a parent, she knows how to be a teacher and she knows how to be a friend and understands those boundaries.”

Since the moment she stepped into East, Rasmussen has had a huge impact on the school. From academic excellence to student relationships, the legacy created by the curly hair will forever live on.