Rome High School’s College and Career Academy has received their largest donation yet, literally. Steve Smith, owner of Smith’s Auto Repair, contributed a whole vehicle to the auto mechanics pathway, on Monday September 13, in order for the students to experience hands-on auto repair. 

From a mechanic’s point of view, Smith said that the 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid vehicle that he donated will give the students a chance to encounter very realistic hands-on experience.

“It’s a real world vehicle,” he said, “it’s going to have real world problems that they’ll probably encounter if they continue down this path of education.”

Auto mechanics teacher, John Bullington, said that the CCA has blessed teachers and students with abundant opportunities. However, he said that the one thing the CCA was not equipped with was old, broken things in need of repair.

“For us, this is going to be an opportunity for these kids to finally get their hands dirty,” Bullington said. “We can fix what’s wrong with the vehicle, then break it and fix it again, so that really gives us a lot of opportunities to get some practice in before we actually start working on real customer cars. We really appreciate this opportunity; this is really going to make our program move forward.”

Associate Principal, Misty Tucker, said that it is opportunities like this that are the reason why the CCA was built.

“Students aren’t just learning about automotive education in a text book or on a computer program,” she explained, “they’re learning by actually working on a car. To have one donated to us helps us save funds in other ways and give back to the program and get supplies and things that students need.”

“We are so appreciative of Smith’s Auto,” she added. “We are so happy to have him be willing to donate this car to our students and allow them to practice, and maybe even turn out employees for his business in the future.”

Smith said that it was his first time visiting the CCA and he was extremely impressed. “It is a state of the art facility,” he affirmed. “It’s got great equipment with a brand new Hunter alignment machine. These kids have got a very nice place to learn.”

He explained that the market is very short of auto mechanics right now, so as a professional in the industry he said it brought him great joy and hope to see a younger generation interested in the field.

Bullington and Smith stood and thanked each other for the opportunity; on the one hand, an opportunity to further the experience of the students, and on the other, the ability to contribute to that experience. More than evident between the two, was the passion they each have for working on cars and teaching others how to do so.

“I really like watching kids go from not knowing which end of the screwdriver to put in their hand, to getting that call from a former student three or four years after high school telling me what shop they’re working at or that they own their own shop,” Bullington added. “Nothing makes you happier than a student coming back and saying, ‘because of what we did in high school, this is where I am today.’”