Paulding School's Vehicle Maintenance Program Receives Big Gift on 10th Birthday

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South Paulding High School and its longtime auto technology instructor recently celebrated a decade of preparing students for the workforce and received a major gift to help teach future mechanics for years to come.

The school’s Maintenance and Light Repair program was the recent recipient of a donation of four 2017 Toyota engines from a vehicle maintenance education agency after the South Paulding program received its five-year accreditation in 2015.

Auto technology instructor James Bouwens, who has led the South Paulding program throughout its history, said the donation will help “provide current and relevant technology for the students to train with in our program here at South.”

“We have been working hard with our industry representatives and local partners and businesses to obtain donations to keep the program on the cutting edge of technology so students learn what is in today’s automotive industry,” he said.

South Paulding Principal Keith Rowland said the school was “very excited” about receiving the engines which Toyota donated to assist vehicle maintenance education efforts.

“Our students love having such a modern example to work with daily in the classroom as it makes their classroom work more relevant,” he said. “Our automotive technology program is thriving and will continue to with the generous support of our community and organizations like Toyota.”

The engines are Toyota 2AR-FE in-line, 2.5 liter DOHC engines. A search on Toyota's web site showed the engines valued at about $17,000 apiece, for a total contribution of $68,000 to South Paulding.

Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) donated the engines to high school programs that completed the accreditation process and was upholding “rigorous and relevant educational standards,” Bouwens said.

The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, also known as NATEF, gave its accreditation to South Paulding in June 2015. Bouwens then applied to the Automotive Youth Educational Systems program in early August for the engine donations and received them in September, he said.

“We have mounted the engines on stands, developed and stocked dedicated tools and storage for these engines, and printed complete work manuals in preparation to utilize these engines for working tasks the students will need to accomplish as part of the training the students receive here at SPHS,” Bouwens said.

He said students will learn to remove and replace all parts of the engine using proper technique and measurements. They also will inspect the parts to determine if they pass manufacturer specifications, he said.

“We will get many years of use out of these engines,” Bouwens said. “Learning on cutting-edge technology is both needed and fun for the students and the instructor, as well.”

The accreditation process took about a year to complete and was a renewal of accreditation it first received in 2010, he said. Its requirements included a properly equipped learning facility and an instructor who is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, he said.

Bouwens has led the South Paulding program — which enrolls about 125 students in grades 10 to 12 — for 10 years after leading the same program at Paulding County High School for eight years.

The South Paulding program has an advisory committee which includes representatives from area vehicle dealers, small businesses, parents and former students who work to “improve and enhance the direction of training for the current students of the program,” Bouwens said.

Andy Hudson of Wildcat Auto Parts in Dallas said his company has helped the program through providing parts and locating engines for Bouwens to obtain for teaching purposes. Hudson’s father, Robert, is a member of the program’s advisory board.

Wildcat has been willing to work with the South Paulding program because “you can’t teach kids how to work on cars without the proper parts,” Andy Hudson said.

Bouwens said Charley Fortner, Mike Roberts, Bobby Stinchcomb and Mike Hamilton, all of Hardy Chevrolet; Terry Harris of Hardy Ford; and Alan Carvel of Paulding Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep helped the program gain and keep its accreditation. They provided such things as used vehicles and a variety of parts and helped keep Bouwens updated on newest technology and training that students will need to work in the industry, he said.

“One component of the accreditation is a daylong, in-facility evaluation from NATEF with at least two representatives from local dealers to help judge the 12 industry standards areas along with hundreds of items to check to ensure proper training is taking place,” Bouwens said.

He also said Liberty Chevrolet in Villa Rica donated more than $12,000 worth of parts to the program, which was “vital” to the program. The parts included airbags, computers and sensors, brake and engine parts, Bouwens said. Other individuals, such as Yvonne Wadford, donated used vehicles which “serve as complete or parts related instruction for our program,” Bouwens said.

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