Clay County School Board approves new career academy at Middleburg High

Julie Morgan

"The Garber Academy of Automotive Services at Middleburg High School" will open for the 2022-2023 school year.

The school board voted unanimously in favor of the new career and technical education program.

Students will get "both classroom and hands-on training" that covers various topics related to the automotive industry. The topics include automobile service, maintenance, repair, and collision repair.

A select number of students will make it out of the classroom into the "real world" to work as interns and ultimately "advanced student auto mechanic trainees." The ultimate goal is certification.

Superintendent David Broskie describes the agreement as a "win-win." These students need these skills in order to be successful in life and to get a job. And for Garber, they get some good homegrown Clay County students that are going to be excellent workers when they get out into the real world."

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for automotive service technicians and mechanics is nearly $47,000/year.

Under direct supervision, the trainees will get hands-on experience from Garber both at school and Garber service facilities. Students may also have the opportunity to get a part-time job at the dealership.

In addition, trainees will learn leadership skills. They'll serve as mentors to fellow students, not in the advanced trainee program.

Depending on the academy's popularity, it could branch out to other schools.

Board member Ashley Gilhousen predicted a friendly rivalry between Clay and Middleburg High. "I have a feeling Clay High is going to get a little jealous." Her comment was met with laughter from the audience and other board members.

"Maybe that could be the second one down the road," said board member Janice Kerekes.

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