By Shawn Byrne
“What the heck am I doing?”
It was the question Wickenburg High School teacher Bill Babyar asked himself as soon as he found out he was named New Business Educator of the Year by the Arizona Business Education Association for the 2018-2019 school year.
“It was humbling. I worked pretty hard last year getting things in order,” Babyar said. “I live an hour away, still do, and it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. It was nice to have my mentors around and that they felt I did a good enough job.”
In his first year of teaching, Babyar installed the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program at WHS, replacing the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program that had been at the school for many years.
The transition’s success is easily measurable. The WHS FBLA Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) – it is not a club – finished in fifth place at the 2019 State Leadership Conference in the community service category.
The three-member team – 2019 WHS graduate Carlos Vazquez Cota, current senior and FBLA president Madison McBride, and current junior Danny Smith – collected professional clothing from the community as its community service project and purchased more clothing with money from FBLA fundraisers. The clothing was used by students throughout the school for job interviews and internships, and other needs they may have had for professional clothing.
FBLA put together about 100 outfits that were given out to students. Some pupils came away with full business attire, including shirts, ties, and shoes. If a student only needed one item of clothing, they could choose to take just the one.
The FBLA team parlayed that fifth-place finish at state and took their bid to the National Leadership Conference in San Antonio. The Wranglers competed against about 130 teams from around the country, which had already competed against the hundreds – if not thousands – of teams from the many high schools.
Wickenburg moved on the finals of the community service category, reaching the top 19. The three representatives of WHS were not done. They finished in 10th place nationally in the first year the organization existed.
“When they called out or name, I thought ‘hey, that’s pretty cool. That’s great,’” Danny Smith said. “It was nerve-racking walking up there. The placed was filled. Getting our trophy and picture taken was fun.”
Babyar and his wife of six months, Savannah, don’t have any children yet, but the teacher found himself having a parent moment.
“It was the first year of FBLA for them. It was the first year they did a community service project,” Babyar said. “The idea didn’t come into fruition until December, and for them to do that so quickly was amazing. I just know that is how I’m going to feel when my future kids have their moments. I was just proud they did that. It was really cool.”
The success of WHS’s FBLA in its first year is a testament to how Babyar builds relationships with his students. He quickly poured himself into their goals and ambitions, and his pupils noticed and responded.
“Though relatively new to teaching, the many recognitions he has received are evidence of his hard work and commitment to kids and their learning,” said Mark Gorman, WHS principal. “He creates opportunities for students to learn by doing, so his kids are always active learning here at WHS and we often see his class around campus.”
FBLA president Madison McBride was at first tentative, and even slightly afraid, when her previous advisor left and Babyar was on his way to Wickenburg.
“Before my junior year, my advisor, who was like a mother to me, left and it was a really hard deal for me,” McBride said. “I was scared who my new advisor was going to be.”
Babyar quickly put the senior at ease.
“He proved to be outstanding. I was so relieved after awhile,” she said. “After I realized what kind of person he was, he’s inspired me so much. He’s helping with my decisions about college and he does what is best for all the kids.”
Babyar and the FBLA members have even more on their plates this year. In addition to preparing for state and national competitions, Wickenburg High School is hosting the Region 4 Conference competition on Jan. 25.
The competition will be held in the Del E. Webb Center For the Performing Arts. There are about 500-600 students expected for the competition, and there is an ongoing call for judges.
“For little Wickenburg to get this honor to host this big region of Arizona is cool,” Babyar said. “People who are experienced in job interviews, sports entertainment management, public speaking, and other business areas can help give the kids some prep before the state tournament in April.”
Babyar can reached by email at email@example.com.