This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight fun/unique things different schools across the country are doing to attract students to their technician program, keep them engaged in the program, and set them up for a successful career as a technician.
Instructor Spotlight: Jack Stow
School: North Kansas City Schools Automotive Technology
# of years teaching: 22 years
# of years in the industry: 15 years
Watch the Full Interview
Tell me about your program and how you got involved in the industry.
Back in the day, I was lucky enough to get into this program during my junior and senior years of high school. After graduating, I immediately went to work in the industry. I stayed in touch with my former instructor and eventually took over this program for him. I have a lot of buy-in for this program because I went through it. If it wasn’t for this program, who knows what would have happened.
How do you attract students to your program?
Every year we put on a car show. It’s small, but it has become a destination car show because we only allow about 65 cars to be in it. However, it’s not all about the car show. It’s about alumni bringing in their cars to help attract students. We also visit other high schools and recruit. I only take 16 new students a year. It’s a two-year program, and students have to be accepted. It’s important for students to understand they can find a home here, and it’s something they can really excel at.
What do you wish more middle and high school students knew about the automotive industry?
I don’t say this to scare anybody off, but if it was easy, anybody would do it. This job isn’t easy, and not what people associate it with from 15 years ago. Students have to be able to read and formulate ideas. There’s nothing like the feeling of fixing stuff, and this job can make you feel really good about yourself.
How do you get local industry involved in your classroom?
My advisory board drives this program. I have the largest advisory board of all the programs. It has been at least 20 years since I’ve worked in the industry. I don’t know what I need without my advisory board. Over half of my advisory board members are alumni who are now service managers or lead technicians. The family relationship in this school is a completely unique atmosphere. Having those relationships with people who want to hire my kids is huge.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I appreciate WrenchWay and look forward to it growing. I think it is such an incredible idea and I tell everybody about it.