I Need a Mechanic
I’ve taught students in auto-body and automotive repairs for over 25 years and know these programs work and my 2,000 high school and college students would agree. Many completed this training at Lake Washington High School, L.W. Institute of Tech., and Bellevue’s superb College of Continuing Ed.
I’m blown away by the effect these programs have on young people as it’s an old idea that has the power to transform lives. Still.
One evening after a graduation of my students, I talked with the father of one of them. Let’s call him Matt— and his father swore that Matt’s 2 years study with me had transformed his son from a mediocre, ‘C’ level student to a straight ‘A’ student who won department honors for his efforts. (4 of my students won Washington Award for Vocational Excellence ‘WAVE’ scholarships)
In all modesty, I told his Dad that all of Matt’s teachers helped him succeed but his father was adamant; it was the shop class that made the difference.
His father said his son learned new skills, and by applying himself, learned to repair cars by welding, metal straightening and painting. Matt learned to stay on a project until completion and by applying himself in his other classes—his grades improved to straight A’s .
Recently I placed an ad on Craigslist to sell an antique vehicle that many of my students knew and would recognize. In the ad, I gave a “shout out” to students past and present and was excited to hear from students that wrote, texted and called when the ad posted.
One former student texted a picture of his “office”, showing him surrounded by Coast Guard helicopters—ones that he services as an air-frame mechanic. Another student wrote that he owns two repair shops and still another said he’s a professional baseball player, playing for the Pirates. Another one—a favorite of mine, used his WAVE scholarship, to become a teacher in Eastern Washington. And still another student, John, said he’s a claim’s adjuster for a local insurance company.
Near the end of my tenure at Lk. Washington High, a handsome young Marine strode into my auto shop and recognizing him, I said, “Michael, you always hated me, what are you doing here?” He hated me because I pushed him to learn, grow and improve until he finally screamed at me to “stay out of his life”. Fast forward the years and now he said, “Things change Mr. P. and I’ve changed” as he warmly shook my hand.
Trade and Industry training WORKS and the proof is all around us; staffing our shops, teaching in our schools and even competing on the baseball field.
Russ Perman is a semi-retired automotive instructor; a writer and photographer who now writes a blog at CheckMyFluids.com