The Automotive Service Technology program at Wakulla High School recently earned accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) in Maintenance and Light Repair.
Starting the program in the 2013-2014 school year, Superintendent Bobby Pearce partnered with Lively Technical Center in Tallahassee to bring this new Automotive Career and Technical Education (CTE) program to Wakulla High students at a location in Crawfordville. Since then it has grown in popularity and now students will graduate with national credentials to help them in their job searches.
Under the leadership of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) master certified instructor Todd O’Neal from Lively who teaches at the WHS location, the Automotive Service Technology program underwent rigorous evaluation by NATEF. Nationally accepted standards of excellence in areas such as instruction, facilities, and equipment were used.
“This is great news for automotive-minded young people and their parents,” said Donald Seyfer, former NATEF Chair. “Because this program increases cooperation between local education and industry leaders, it gives added assurance that Wakulla High graduates will be employable entry-level technicians.”
Founded in 1983, NATEF is a non-profit, independent organization that evaluates and accredits entry-level technician training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry.
Instructor O’Neal explained, “For several months, we worked closely with NATEF to make certain that our program would meet strict industry standards, and now we are privileged to join the ranks of the NATEF accredited training programs. Students will be assured of a quality education, and shop owners will be assured of getting quality job applicants.”
O’Neal added that WHS Career Specialist Sarabeth Jones, who recently retired, “was instrumental in us earning this accreditation. She did all of the application work and researched exactly what we needed to do to be accredited by NATEF.”
Lively Assistant Principal Randy Free also helped the program earn its accreditation and is a supportive liaison between Lively and WHS. Wakulla Schools’ Coordinator of Safety and Risk Management Jim Griner helps the program with safety requirements.
NATEF also works with students to increase career awareness opportunities in the automotive repair industry, where salaries have become competitive over the years. The increased sophistication of today’s cars means schools need to stay current to effectively educate students to meet industry standards. That is why accreditation for automotive programs is so important.
Members of the local WHS Automotive Advisory Board on hand to congratulate O’Neal and his students were Kevin Roberts, owner of Ace Hardware and Auto Appliance Center with National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) affiliation, plus owner of Kevin’s Machine and Engineering; and William Usherwood, owner of Best Value Tires and Automotive Specialties.
WHS students in other Career and Technical programs such as Medical, Engineering, Business Management, Technology, Construction, Culinary Arts, and Welding also earn industry accepted certifications that can give them an advantage in their job searches. “Our students earn hundreds of industry certifications every year that show they have learned the skills that are being required in today’s job market,” stated WHS Principal Mike Barwick.
Noted Superintendent Pearce, “What used to be called Vocational programs have now made quite a resurgence as Career and Technical programs. We want our students to be able to graduate from high school with skills that can get them a decent paying job right away. Even if they pursue college or more training in an area, they will be able to do work they are certified in as they go. They can make a competitive wage without having to incur crippling student debt. Congratulations to the WHS Automotive students and to teacher Todd O’Neal for earning such an important accreditation. ”