Centreville High School's automotive program received its National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) certification this March after two years of preparation. It is run by a single teacher, Lyman Rose, who has been teaching six classes a day since the 2004-2005 school year.
THE AUTOMOTIVE program is made up of a series of classes: Automotive Level I, II, and III. These courses teach about 120 students a variety of automotive skills — from how to change a tire on a car and how to change oil — to how to do electrical work and repair more serious car problems.
After agreeing to become the full-time automotive instructor, Rose could not be happier with his decision. “This program offers the student that does not want to move on to a four-year college the opportunity to learn a life skill that could become a career. It also opens doors for them to advance to a technical university to build upon their automotive education,” he says.
Furthermore, eventually almost everyone will drive or own a car at some point in their life. “Whether it be saving money on repairs or fixing a flat on the side of the road, it’s good to have the knowledge,” says Rose.
Any student at Centreville High School who is a sophomore or above can sign up for the first course in the program. After successfully completing the course, students can continue on to more advanced levels. In the first level students learn safety, jack stands, proper lift operation, and perform hands-on work on donated vehicles. The second level includes mostly hands-on labs where students work on complete brake systems, suspension, and do customer-based work. Finally, in the most advanced level, students work on large customer-based clientele and Student Auto Sales vehicles, which are donated from the community for the students to repair and resell. The majority of the proceeds then return to the program.
A SENIOR at Centreville High School, Anthony Smith, believes the automotive program is the best course he has ever taken. “I believe this program has benefited me more than any other educational aspect of my life,” he says. “Mr. Rose taught me that if you’re going to put your name on something that represents you, then you do it the best that you can.”
Smith hopes he will be able to take the skills he has learned from class and use them to become the best technician he can be. “Mr. Rose treats you like you’re an adult and not like you’re a student,” he says. “This class is fun when it can be and tough when it has to be.”
Junior Blake Young agrees. “We do serious work and students work hard to keep the shop in tiptop shape,” he says.
Students are often surprised at the amount of care and work that goes into making a vehicle run. Everything must be done correctly and with attention to detail in order to be successful. But the hard work is well worth it to most students.
“By the end of this class I’ll be able to diagnose problems in my own car,” says senior Cameron Berthelsen. “This will save me money and time.”
But what makes the automotive program at Centreville High so unique? Smith says it is the ability of his classmates to be able to work together. During a hands-on project called the Dodge Durango engine job, Smith says students truly came together and helped each other get through the engine rebuild by using the things they had learned. “It was one great experience I’ll never forget,” he said.
For Mr. Rose, his hope is that the automotive program will help students at some point in their post-high school life. “The most rewarding thing for me is to see my students graduate,” he says.