Wiles to speak at Centre banquet

Retiring educator has a passion for ministry

Staff writer

Junior high science teacher Deb Wiles will be the speaker Saturday at the Centre Junior/Senior High School banquet. She will be retiring at the end of the school year after a 32-year career at Centre.

“I’m not really retiring from teaching,” she said. “I’m just jumping more deeply into another phase of my life.”

The 54-year-old instructor is the minister of Rock Island Brethren in Christ Church in Herington. She also teaches a 30-week course in life skills for women who have suffered abuse or need help in living a successful life. There is also a class for men.

The demand is great, Wiles said. She plans to teach two women’s classes next year.

Provided by Life Skills International, a non-profit domestic violence organization based in Aurora, Colo., the curriculum is geared to helping abusers, victims, and families gain an understanding of abusive behaviors and learn how to move on — to forgive, develop trust, and heal.

Wiles’ passion to help others comes from her own personal experience of being abused as a child. Her call to the ministry came shortly after she attended a women’s retreat in 1998 and was led to forgive the perpetrator.

A few years later, her pastor invited her into his office and asked her if she wanted to preach.

“I was blown away,” she said. “No one knew that I had been praying about it for a while.”

Then a fellow church member told her God wanted her to be a pastor.

She began seminary classes online. When a church in Abilene asked her to become their minister, she received permission from the Centre school board to scale back to part-time teaching.

Six months later, she felt the nudge to go back to the Rock Island church in Herington. When she found out the pastor was preparing to leave, she contacted the conference bishop and received his blessing to seek the position.

She started at Rock Island in August of 2007 and has been there ever since. Her seminary training is ongoing.

It all began in 1981

Wiles came to Centre USD 397 as Deb Knipp in the fall of 1981, the same year that Stan Wiles joined the faculty. Both coached junior high intramural sports, and both lived in Herington. Their friendship developed into something more, and they were married in August 1983. They live at Ramona. They were members of the Rosebank Brethren in Christ Church north of Ramona until it closed, where Deb occasionally substituted for the pastor.

Deb Wiles began as a high school English teacher and junior high school reading and spelling instructor.

“I had no intention of coaching at all,” she said.

However, she went on to serve as a coach at various levels and in several sports, but mostly at the junior high level. Her teams often won league trophies and usually had winning records.

When junior high science was added to the subjects Wiles taught, she took additional schooling to get a 7th-through-12th-grade science endorsement. She eventually shifted to all science.

“My goal as a junior high science teacher was to lay the foundation for high school science,” she said.

She especially enjoyed it when impromptu discussions arose, when students had their hands up and were asking questions. Leading science projects also was fun, she said.

In 2010, Wiles received the “Middle School Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year” award from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. That year, her team had a perfect 13-0 record.

This past January, Wiles received the “USD 397 Educator of the Year” award from the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce in Herington.

Her husband, Stan Wiles, retired three years ago and is manager of Heartland Foods, the grocery store in Herington.

Wiles is looking forward to having more time to spend on her ministries.

“That is the most exciting part of my life,” she said.

She also wants to take riding lessons and learn how to ride a horse.

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