East High School’s Auto Tech III class, in St. Charles, IL, is patterned after a real automotive repair shop. In addition to learning how to work on cars, the students also gain experience in dealing with customers, scheduling appointments and giving estimates.
Below is the article as it appeared on the mysuburbanlife.com website.
East High School auto class works toward being a real shop
Posted Apr 27, 2010 @ 02:31 PM
By Hal Conick
St. Charles, IL With two cars raised up for inspection, hands covered in oil and enough paperwork to last for days, St. Charles East High School’s Auto Tech III class looks and runs like a real-life automotive shop.
“We’re trying to make this run like a real business,” said the shop’s service manager, James Kerley, a senior at East.
James explains teams of workers are set up to accommodate students’ strengths and weaknesses. He goes from group to group within the shop, making sure everything is running smoothly. Some work on cars; others, such as senior Justin Farris, the class’ service writer, make sure the workflow goes smoothly.
“I think we’ll be working like a real auto shop, just in and out, in and out, pretty soon,” Justin said. He said he deals with customers, including scheduling appointments and giving estimates.
“It’s going to be good insight to know how to deal with customers,” Justin said, as he rifles through a desk already filled to the brim with paperwork, including repair orders with a waiver statement that all vehicle owners must sign to have work performed.
Tom Straiker, the class’ teacher, said he has been teaching students ways to work on cars over the past couple of years. They have learned what to do, and then gone to the lab to practice. He now feels they have the ability to take things one step further, look at the car as a whole and run the class like a business.
“I just feel like we want to give them some real-life shop experience,” Straiker said, adding he brought in outsiders each student had to interview with to attain a job in the class.
Straiker said the shop has been starting off well, even with some administrative shakiness.
“Customer service is going good, but there’s some confusion on the business end,” Straiker said, adding many of the business aspects and service systems they are implementing are brand-new to students in the class. “It’s a struggle, but it’s part of the job.”
Despite challenges, Karen Kobler, a library media assistant at St. Charles East, said the oil change and brake check the students performed on her Chevrolet Suburban went very well.
“I would highly rate it,” Kobler said. “They don’t charge you for labor, and two, you know you’re not going to get hosed or unfairly charged ’cause it’s the students working on it.”
As senior Jared Edgar, an auto technician in the class, helps tune up a car on the hydraulic lift, he said he thought the first week of the shop being open has gone well, and he anticipates it getting even better.
“I expect it to run like an actual shop,” said Jared, who has been working on cars since he was 10.
James, who has been working on cars since he was 7, said most students in the class have years of experience with cars, but the class allows them to focus their talents.
“We’re getting a lot done,” James said. “I think everyone here has worked on cars outside of school. A lot of people think this class is relaxing (because) they’re more visual learners. We’re just learning the flow of how things should go.”
Cost of operations
As part of the service, those who want to have their cars worked on must pay for parts. Teacher Tom Straiker said donations, which are optional, also are accepted for students’ work, so they can make money to help cover class expenses and shirts for the students. “The goal is education right now,” Straiker said. For information or to schedule service, e-mail [email protected]
To read this article on the mysuburbanlife.com website, visit http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/huntley/news/education/x1042555490/East-High-School-auto-class-works-toward-being-a-real-shop?img=2.