Sep 18 2007 | Wicomico automotive technology teacher Dave White is 2007 AYES National Instructor of the Yea

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Wicomico automotive technology teacher Dave White is 2007 AYES National Instructor of the Year

The Automotive Technology Program at Parkside High Schools Department of Career & Technology Education is acknowledged statewide as one of the best at preparing its students for careers in the field. Now one of the programs longtime instructors, Dave White, is being honored as the 2007 AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems) National Instructor of the Year.

More than 1,000 automotive technology instructors nationwide were eligible for the National Instructor of the Year Award, which White received at the annual AYES conference in Detroit over the summer. A spokeswoman for AYES said that White had the highest score on the nominating form and provided "incredibly impressive" supplemental materials.

The director of AYES in Maryland and other area states visited Parkside in June and urged White to apply for the honor because of his programs track record of placing interns in the community and graduating students who are prepared for careers in the field of automotive technology.

When White arrived at the AYES conference, he learned that he was one of five finalists for the national award. The other four were from larger, more affluent schools in Arizona (where the program was large enough to have five instructors), New York and Arlington, Va. "We're small, but we hold our own," he said. "When the award was announced, I was really awestruck, because I didn't think I stood a chance."

"We do everything that's asked of us, and beyond. This is really and honor for the students, the program, my supervisor, Bryan Ashby, the school and the Board of Education," he said. "It's also a credit to the partnerships we have built with employers in the community. We could not sustain our programs without the support of local industries. This program has done an exemplary job of building and maintaining those relationships."

As the AYES Instructor of the Year, White will enjoy a vacation trip to Rome, Italy, next spring.

White is in his 21st year as one of the program's teachers, though his involvement with it began even further back. He graduated from the automotive technology program when he was part of the first graduating class from Parkside High School. Building on the on-the-job training he did at a local dealership, he went on to work as parts and service director for the Good News dealership, where he worked for six years while also teaching at CTE. His co-teacher, Shawn Taylor, is also a graduate of the program.

At least a third of the employees in local dealerships parts departments have gone through the program at Parkside. "When the dealerships need someone, we're the first place they call. We try to match the student with the job," White said.

Both boys and girls prepare for careers in automotive technology in the program. Each year, the Automotive Technology Program serves about 40 students in the exploratory sophomore class, 25 to 30 juniors, and 20 seniors. Every ninth-grader in the county also visits the program, as do some elementary students.

Parkside's job shadowing program is modelled on one from AYES. Students pick four places where they'd like to work and spend a week at each location, working in sales, parts and service under the eye of a trained mentor.

After exploring all four locations, the student picks the two top locations, which the instructors cross-match with the dealership's top two student picks. The student then spends four weeks at one location to make sure it's the right fit before the student and employer are matched for a summer internship. The school takes care to send out only those students who will represent themselves and the program well: Students must have a B average or better, good attendance and no discipline referrals. Open, honest communication is maintained throughout the process.

"It's kind of like a test drive on the job, for the student and for the employer," White said.

"They're not going into the occupation blindly. They'll know exactly what's expected of them," White said. "When they go in to apply for jobs, it could be where they've done their internships, so there's a comfort level."

The Parkside CTE Automotive Technology Program became part of AYES in 1999, one of the first Maryland schools to do so. Some 420 schools like Parkside CTE have completed the stringent process to earn AYES certification. Schools must apply, undergo an interview process and have an on-site evaluation of curriculum, staff and facilities.

"We are one of the most consistent schools that AYES has. In the state of Maryland, we've been at the top or near the top every year since we've been an AYES school. And it's not just our school system: It's the partnership that we have with local dealerships," White said. "If they weren't willing to work with us and give our students jobs and experience, we would not be able to provide such a good opportunity for our students."

White's is not the only award the program has received. The Auto Tech program itself was a national winner in 2000-01, when the program was recognized as a national award-winner by the Automotive Industry Planning Council and the American Association of Career and Technology Education. Parkside CTE has just learned that it will receive that honor again later this year, as the top national secondary school Auto Technology program in the country.

Two years ago, two Parkside CTE Auto Tech students won the state AYES competition and competed in the Greater New York Auto Dealer Show, winning valuable prizes and scholarships.

"When students come into the program, there's a broad support system," said Ashby, supervisor of career and technology education. "They're going to receive an education that's supported by the businesses and the public. The parents are very much a part of the process."

"Anytime a program our size, from a school system with our limited resources, is recognized on a national level, its quite an honor," Ashby said.