Ga. dealer rewards great teaching
The most fun Valery Voyles has all year is when she hands over car keys to four dedicated teachers in her community each fall.
Those teachers are all winners of local Teacher of the Year programs in suburban Atlanta, where Voyles, 56, runs her family's six dealerships. They get a one-year car lease and free maintenance for that period.
If a winning teacher goes on to take the state Teacher of the Year title, he or she gets to keep the car. While that hasn't happened since the program started in 2007, Voyles hopes she'll soon be able to give one of the cars away permanently.
"There are so many cuts going on right now," said Voyles, who worked as a model before joining her family's dealership group. "I don't think personally you're going to get the great teachers if we don't encourage people to go into teaching who really feel a calling for it."
Supporting education is one of her own callings.
Photo credit: ALISON CHURCH
Area teachers and their family members get free oil changes and a 20 percent service discount at Voyles' dealerships. Voyles also supports and serves as a board member of a small school dedicated to teaching children with Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. She has a nephew with Asperger's.
Voyles' father, Ed Voyles, was a big inspiration in her community involvement. A modest man whom she recalls as usually driving the cheapest car on the lot, Ed Voyles loved children and taught the 3-year-old nursery school class at his church for many years. Some of those now-adult students still come into the dealerships and talk about "Mr. Ed," as he was known to them.
After he died in 2004, Valery Voyles found a legal pad with page after page of donations he'd made to various churches and orphanages as well as medical charities.
Valery Voyles, a breast cancer survivor and nominee for this year's Time Dealer of the Year Award, has continued several of her father's efforts but gives larger amounts in hopes of making a bigger impact for the organizations.
"We have very low turnover, and we've always had a lot of repeat customers -- we're not the type who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising," Voyles said. "I'd much rather do some of these things that help the community.''
You can reach Amy Wilson at email@example.com.