Troy High Showcases New Auto Lab

by CYNTHIA KMETT

While many parents anticipate their child heading for college, that isn’t always the right direction for every student, especially those who like to work with their hands. As you might find out the next time you’re looking for a plumber or carpenter, the trades are in short supply. But Troy High School has stepped up to help us all have top notch mechanics to work on our vehicles in the coming years.

Last week the school debuted a state-of-the-art automotive lab for students who love cars. It all started three years ago when NATEF Certified Auto Instructor Dustin Warner was hired for the classroom and he set about renovating the space so students wouldn’t have to leave school to get the training they wanted and needed. His first year, Warner had three new bays and vehicle lifts installed. Next, the lab had to become certified by the National Automotive Technology Education Foundation, which would enable the school to be eligible for special state funding. Then, the District had to find corporate partners in the community who could help.

David Easterbrook, who lost his daughter Ashley and two of her friends to a drunk driver just before she would have graduated from Troy High and headed off to become a nurse, has been giving scholarships from his foundation, Ashley’s Dream, to nursing students. But his company is AME Vertical, an automotive dealership storage solutions company. He visited last April to see what was needed in the auto lab, talked to his son Adam who heads Ashley’s foundation, and made a grant to take Troy High’s auto lab to the next level. He helped change the school’s dream into a reality.

He observed that “Ashley will approve of helping these young people achieve their dream.”

AME Vertical redesigned the lab and provided new workstations, desks, shelving, roll carts and tool boxes. Another local business, IM Branded, stepped in to provide dealership graphics throughout the lab. Most of this work was completed over the summer. The Suburban Collection Motor Mall in Troy recently provided the program with a $5,000 donation for further upgrades.

“It’s nice to have a dream and then somebody else tells you to dream bigger,” Troy High Principal Remo Roncone said. “David helped us identify the industry needs and bridge the gap to develop a world-class instructional center in our high school.”

Troy Mayor Dane Slater was on hand at the opening and observed that the district has “turned a vision into a reality.” He also thanked the local corporations, which stepped up to make this a center of world-class instruction.

Also thankful for all the help, teacher Warner added thanks to the many individuals who made this possible. “Compared to other automotive labs at surrounding districts and community colleges, there is no comparison—ours is truly state-of-the-art,” he said. “Walk into our classroom and it looks like a modern automotive dealership service center.”

He also gave thanks to the Suburban Collection for their technical training and observed that students will leave school and get a job immediately as certified mechanics. (Word is that some of them are already working part-time.)

Student Jacob Exum said he was “always interested in cars. I love this class; it means a lot to me.” He added that he was proud of all the sponsors who stepped up to make it a reality. His fellow students clapped at his observations.

Roncone said this work to the automotive classroom lab is just the first phase in updating the school’s facilities to further enhance the STEM curriculum. Future plans are being developed to offer other classes in automotive technology, engineering, robotics and the skilled trades like welding.

“There is a shortage of talent in these fields here and across the country,” he said. “Our new auto lab is an example of our commitment to developing curriculum that is current and relevant.”