One of the priority areas of Tennessee Succeeds, the departments’ strategic plan, is high school and bridge to postsecondary with a goal of the majority of high school graduates in the class of 2020 earning a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or degree. Educators at South Side High School in Jackson, TN recognize this value of connecting high school learning to the working world. By strategically connecting the coursework to the automotive industry, educators are setting students up for a strong future. They are preparing students to earn industry certifications by engaging students in work-based learning. The automotive repair programs at South Side High School prepare students for postsecondary and additional training in the automotive repair industry.
The automotive maintenance and light repair and collision repair programs are some of the few in the state accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). NATEF accreditation is obtained through a rigorous certification process in which the program is evaluated against national industry training expectations. Students who complete NATEF accredited programs earn one full year of the work experience required by the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to become a professionally certified technician. In addition, students may sit for ASE student certifications while still in high school. The number of students passing the certification each year is growing with the goal of all students earning the industry certifications in the future.
To best prepare students for the reality of the industry, work-based learning opportunities are embedded at increasing levels as students progress through the programs of study. Experiences begin with industry speakers coming to the school and students going on field trips to industry to see actual working conditions. Students also have the opportunity to job shadow each year at local dealerships and independent shops.
Ultimately, students get to participate in capstone work-based learning internships with local ASE certified technicians. Recent student placements include Alan Vines Automotive, Robinson Toyota, Victory Honda, AutoZone, and Advance Auto Parts. These experiences set students up to be successful after high school no matter what path they take, whether they enroll in Jackson State Community College, a local Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, or directly enter the workforce.