GREENVILLE — Greenville High School Auto Tech instructor Travis Nicholas led the school’s first Auto-Tech Program Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) Advisory Council meeting of the year, November 7.
“Our advisory committee works to strategically and collaboratively guide the program forward, ensuring that all processes are successfully training students for today’s workforce demands,” Nicholas said.
AYES consists of Business and Education partnerships between both automotive dealers, aftermarket service employers and high school automotive technology schools. Its goals are: to develop career-ready, entry-level automotive technicians and service personnel; to give high school automotive technology students the opportunity and guidance to explore rewarding automotive careers and to provide the tools and support to develop and practice the skills needed to succeed in the industry.
Those in attendance included business representatives from Sinclair Community College; Grilliot Alignment Service; Hamilton Auto Sales; O’Reilly Auto Parts; Toyota; Stark State College; author Jim Alderman; Greenville City Schools: Bus Mechanic Department; Principal Stan Hughes, Director of Career Technology and Special Education Andrea Townsend, Career Technology Secretary Mary Lee Moore and Auto-Tech instructor Matt Obringer.
Nicholas discussed some of the foreseeable changes taking place in the school’s program.
“The biggest in my eyes was Mr. (Jim) Anderson ‘mostly’ retiring,” he said. “Jim did all the classroom work, and I was primarily in the shop. We now have two full-time instructors all day. Matt teaches the seniors, who have been through the program and know what to expect, and I am the junior instructor. I am in the shop in the mornings with the juniors for a couple of periods, then we have some integration and Matt teaches the seniors in the afternoon in the shop. We flip flop the class times and are still doing our academic integration. We have kept all of our academic teachers, which has helped.”
In addition, other staff have changed, such as: new Auto Tech Program instructor Matt Obringer, New Director of Career Technology Andrea Townsend and new Principal Stan Hughes. Nicholas said the Auto-Tech program has worked well for a long time.
“Our goal is to keep our program viable, keep the students working, give them employability skills and teach them a skill for life,” he said. “We are going to improve the program a little, but it is obviously working well.”
One change has been a result of successful recruitment, according to Nicholas. Thirty students signed up for the 10th-grade introduction class, causing the creation of two classes. Another change has come from Obringer’s observation of the students. He said seven students signed up for the core transportation foundations class, and two dropped out the first day.
“One of the problems is that it is just boring,” he said. “It is research-based. We are really trying to push what jobs are available in the transportation industry. Not everyone is going to be a mechanic. I’ve tried to switch it around to where kids are researching different areas of that industry, and telling me more about what jobs are available overall. With that little change, I can see some life in them now. Hopefully with that and some recruitment this year, we will be able to push forward.”
The program has also had a shift in technology with the addition of a SMART Board. Obringer said he is really into technology.
“If I can’t use technology, how can I expect the students to use it?,” he asked. “I like tracking data for the students to see what we are lacking.”
Other agenda items included the discussion of summer internships, the school being in good standing with the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), junior class employment, tools and equipment, job shadowing, upcoming projects for competitions and recruitment. On a final note, Nicholas reminded everyone that the Auto-Tech Program’s fundraiser comes from donated vehicles. The funding goes towards membership and competition costs, he said.
“In addition to the money it brings in, the benefits of working on the vehicles far outweigh any type of candy sales,” Nicholas said. “It is not very often in a high school setting, in a timely or correct manner, that students remove, repair and install an engine of a Honda Odyssey.”
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