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High schoool educators get look at Alabama HBCU’s auto institute

Trenholm State
Technical College
wants high school educators to know that the path to a career doesn’t always go
through a four-year college.

growing automotive industry makes that message even more appropriate, Trenholm
leaders say.

More than 30 educators math and science teachers and school
counselors just wrapped up two weeks of seminars designed to give them insight
into what Trenholm offers, especially for students who may want to work in the
automotive industry.

The Automotive Manufacturing Summer Institute gave the
educators a look inside Trenholm, and most of the participants were highly

Linda Bednarski, who teaches science at Jefferson
Davis High School
in Montgomery, said the lessons
made it clear that high schoolers need more classes in some areas even after
graduating from high school.

“The most important thing is I understand how
industries use math and science on a continual basis,” she said.

Milton Ganier, a math teacher at Jefferson Davis High, said
this was one of his more valuable summer learning sessions. It was literally a
hands-on experience.

“It gives us three things,” he said. “It
gives us exposure, exploration and opportunity.

“We are being exposed to all of the opportunities that
are available. We get to touch, get our hands dirty and get to make

Participants spent the last two weeks touring Trenholm and
working in its labs to learn what kinds of programs are available.

Gainer said the two weeks were valuable for teachers, but he
thinks it would work even better if there were a seminar for the youngsters

“We should start this with the students,” he said.
“You have got to plant the seed in elementary school.

“Then you should really focus in on it in the 10th and
11th grade. This is a great program.”

Bednarski said she previously believed the stereotype that
technical schools were for people headed to dead-end jobs.

“I thought they are going to be a grease monkey in some
shop,” she said of students headed to technical schools. Now she knows
that’s not true.

“These are jobs where you accept responsibility. There
is about no limit to what you can earn, and this is where the work is. There
just are not enough students.”

Ruth Hall, a computer teacher at Bullock
County High School,
said she was amazed that so many jobs in the auto industry are high-tech.

She said that institute participants must take
responsibility for getting word to their students how valuable such an
education can be.

She also said Alabama’s growing automobile manufacturing
industry and its demand for workers will make the lessons that can be learned
at Trenholm all the more important.

Robert Burns, a spokesman for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing
Alabama, the largest part of central Alabama’s
auto industry, said the company is not a direct sponsor of Trenholm’s program
but is glad to see it.
“If they (applicants) have the skill sets, it would be
a plus for them,” Burns said.

Hyundai has worked with Trenholm on grant applications for
programs like a maintenance apprenticeship, Burns said.

Sam Munnerlyn, interim president at Trenholm, said the
summer institute focused on the automotive industry, but he hopes the teachers
will steer students toward all fields at the school.

“We want students to get science and math and the rest
of the courses for manufacturing,” he said.

“We want to get them prepared now.”

Trenholm’s automotive technology program soon will get a new
tool for teaching its students when it launches an assembly line similar to
portions of those at Hyundai, only on a much smaller scale. Nevertheless, it
will be the real thing.

“We will make a car,” Munnerlyn said. The school
has not decided exactly what kind of car it will make.

Information from: Montgomery

– Associated Press

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