Equipping Students With Life Skills Auto Service Class—More Than Just Working on Cars

August 01, 2007 | Kim Miller

How are a grill, a cam shaft bearing, and prayer related? They usually aren't, unless perhaps you are rebuilding an engine and in need of a miracle.

Nestor Celaya and Shawn Murphy, both Milo Academy seniors, experienced firsthand God’s miraculous power in auto service class this year. Both boys were rebuilding the engine on a Toyota pickup for their class project when a bearing vanished. Keeping an eye out for the missing piece, they continued with their repairs until they absolutely needed the bearing. After a class period of fruitless searching, their classmates joined them in prayer that they would find the bearing. In the meantime, their teacher, Jeff Miller, shared their prayer request during staff meeting. That very day, just before class was dismissed, Miller happened to look down between the grill and the radiator, and the bearing was right there—no one knows how it got there except by a miracle.

In previous years the format for auto service class focused more on small hands-on projects, lectures and book-learning. Technology instructor Jeff Miller wanted to change all of that. His vision for this class was to make it as practical and true-to-life as possible. He designed and restructured his class outline to cover the challenges of purchasing, owning and selling a car. Miller says, “One of my primary goals for the students is to take ownership of their vehicles. If you look at the activities and design of the class, everything is geared for responsibility and personal ownership in their projects.”

After learning the basics of car repair and safety, each student builds a transparent 4-cylinder model engine as a visual aid to learn the parts of an engine. For the remainder of the term, each student takes a partner and shares in the entire process of selecting a vehicle that was donated to the academy, researching its retail value, estimating repair costs, repairing the vehicle while keeping an expense report, and then reselling it to the general public. After the expenses are paid, the revenue is divided between the department and the student partners.

Improvements made in the department this year included six new Craftsman tool chests for the teams to use. Next year, two additional car lifts will be installed. The technology department also offers metals class, which includes welding, machining, and casting; and woods class, which provides opportunities for students to make personal projects.