Area Technology students get hands-on work experience thanks to certifications

Published 9:30 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

By Rebecca Eaves

What do you think of when you think of a classroom? Teachers, pencils, papers and desks.

For eight hard-working George Rogers Clark High School students, their classroom is much different. It consists of a hands-on, working experience.

The Area Technology Center gives students the opportunity to get their certification in eight different focus areas.

One of these focus areas is automotive.

The automotive pathway equips students with the tools they need to be able to pass the ASE certification test.

With this certification, students like Bryce Thomas and Zach Adams are able to find jobs where they can utilize the skills they learned.

Thomas and Adams began working for their certification their sophomore year by taking Maintenance and Light Repair A.

After taking section A, students go on to take sections B and C their junior year and section D their senior year.

Adams, a senior, is working as a technician at Valvoline in Winchester, while Thomas, also a senior, is working at a Subaru dealership in Lexington.

“The job search process was easy, to be honest,” Adams said. “As long as you got done what you needed to, the teachers will help you find a job within your career pathway.”

Thomas also found success while job searching.

“I went to several dealerships and told them that I was a ASE-certified student and knew basic knowledge on cars, which helped me get the job,” Thomas said.

Adams said he has received many benefits by being able to spend part of his week in a working environment.

“It’ll set me ahead of other students because it’ll look good on resumes,” he said. “I can say I am a skilled, certified technician.”

Thomas has also been reaping the rewards of this program and the ATC.

“The ATC has given me the opportunity to go after my passion of being a mechanic and getting hands-on experience in an actual automotive shop and setting,” he said.

Thomas has also picked up many other skills like working with customers and gaining more knowledge about cars.

Kyle Sward is the teacher who runs the automotive pathway and teaches all four Maintenance and Light Repair classes.

“Most of these students haven’t had jobs prior to that, so they get a skill of going to work every day, being on time, following directions and making decisions on how to fix the car,” Sward said. “They’re going to work and they’re getting paid. They work about 24 hours a week.”

Thomas and Adams agree the ATC and Sward have helped them with this experience.

“People should pick the automotive pathway because Mr. Sward is a great teacher,” Adams said. “He’s also a very good friend. The best part about it is when you’re in my position as a senior and going through co-op with Mr. Sward.”

The ATC and co-op give students the opportunity to use the skills they have and gain new ones.

The classroom merges with the real world.

“If you aren’t a paper and pencil kind of learner, the ATC can help you find an alternative pathway that only requires your passion for hands-on learning,” Thomas said.

Rebecca Eaves is a George Rogers Clark High School student and an editor on staff of the school’s student newspaper,  Smoke Signals. This article originally appeared in that publication.