XENIA — For Greene County Career Center Auto Collision Repair teacher Rick Burton, it is fairly easy to describe how his program attracts students.
“Kids get drawn in by people (especially family) who are working on cars,” Burton said.
GCCC’s Auto Collision Repair program consists of various aspects. Body work and paint are two of the most important skills that students will learn.
“We teach them to weld, basic mechanical work, ton of soft skills, and estimating,” Burton said. “We get into various forms of restoration work.”
One of the highlights for students who participate in the program is that they will get to put their welding and mechanical skills to work in other labs on GCCC’s campus.
According to Burton, interactions with customers play a huge role in the field of auto collision repair. As a result, he prepares students for such situations.
“Whenever possible, we put students in live situations with customers,” Burton said.
Burton said that part of the learning process for the auto collision repair industry requires students to become involved with I-Car, a national accreditation program.
“Students leave GCCC with two platinum certifications,” Burton said. “The credentials in this program are adult credentials.”
Entry-level career opportunities are available for students in Burton’s program. He constantly receives calls requesting assistance for helper positions of body technician and painting.
During their senior year, students in the program are able to participate in work placement. During the lunch period, students will leave the school and work the rest of the afternoon. For further education, students work one-on-one with a technician.
The new building and its accompanying facilities mean a lot to the advancement of the program.
“We went from a 40-year-old paint booth to three paint areas. The areas are top of the line and state of art facilities,” Burton said. “Students are learning in the best possible areas and with the best tools. My paint booth is the newest in town.”
Fairborn High School Junior Hannah Graves took a unique approach when deciding to become a part of the program. Originally, she was deciding between two different labs. However, visits to GCCC changed her mind.
“When I came for CAD Days and Greene Day, I felt like it was something that I could get involved in. It was something about the lab that drew me in,” Graves said.
Graves added that auto collision repair is a male-dominated field, which also encouraged her to become involved in the program.
Xenia High School Junior Dailyn Arnold shared the same sentiment as Graves. With the field being so male-dominated, she wants to make a difference. Plus, the field does not contain many women of color. Arnold wants that to change.
Arnold’s dad is involved with the mechanical side of auto repair. However, that area did not appeal to her. Her path to the program mirrors Graves’ path.
“I was between two labs. On Greene Day, I visited Mr. Burton’s lab. Something clicked for me,” Arnold said.
Being a student at GCCC and in the auto collision repair program has completely altered the outlook on Arnold’s future.
“Before coming to GCCC, I was not thinking long-term. I was thinking about working in a factory and paying bills,” Arnold said. “After I came here, my long-term outlook changed. It allowed me to take my career and future more seriously.”
After graduating from GCCC, Arnold hopes to get an internship at a parts shop. A goal she has is to become a body technician.
Graves believes the program will have a major positive effect on her life. First and foremost, the program enables Graves to plan her future. Her long-term goal is to be the manager of a shop that she owns.
“In the short-term, I want to get an internship to get my foot in the field. I want to make people realize they want me,” Graves said. “Just because you have something rough going on, that does not mean you cannot get past it.”
Upon graduation from GCCC, Graves wants to acquire an internship. She hopes that she will be able to take the baby steps needed to become a technician.
“Prove Yourself” is a motto that Graves abides by.
“In this field, being a woman means nothing. I want to have my own shop and prove to people that I can do it,” Graves said.
Reach Darryl McGee at 937-502-4534