Automotive programs in high schools have come a long way in the past 30 years. Think back to dimly lit, unorganized, dirty shops where students were challenged by outdated technology and insufficient tools.
Thanks to a unique public-private partnerships, Lewisville ISD has a team of teaching professionals who engage students daily and work with companies like Park Place Dealerships, an auto industry leader, to prepare students for real-world applications.
“The community engagement with Park Place gives us access to current technology and information so we are teaching our students the most up to date material,” explained Doug Emery, Automotive Technology Instructor at Lewisville ISD’s Career Center East. “We want to make sure our students are familiar with the systems, technology and equipment that dealerships are using to ensure our students are successful in the marketplace.”
Park Place is continually looking to develop the highest quality technicians for its 17 full-service dealerships located across Dallas-Fort Worth, while Lewisville ISD is always seeking career opportunities for students. This innovative public-private partnership between Park Place and Lewisville ISD provides access to master technicians, general managers, human resources, talent acquisition, service managers, and leadership from the 2000-member company.
There are tangible benefits to the students. Park Place hired seven 2018 graduates of the program as technicians at its Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus dealerships in Grapevine.
“The program really helped me choose a path,” said Raul Martinez, one of the 2018 grads currently working at Park Place Jaguar/Land Rover Grapevine. “Before, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I was sort of lost. When we started working on cars I realized this was something I really enjoyed doing.”
Park Place also brings experts from different areas of the industry into the classroom as mentors.
“As we grow, we are continually looking for individuals that can be successful in our industry,” said Tony Carimi, vice-president of Operations for Park Place. “Our industry is quickly evolving so we want to expose students to the latest technology and advances in a real-world environment that focuses on personal attention and strong mentorships.”
Working with the teachers, Park Place is fully engaged with interviewing students, branding the shop with graphics of high-end manufacturers’ logos, connecting with parents and district representatives and speaking at events.
“Park Place technicians who have been in the field a long time have come into our classroom,” explained Travis Sutton, the LISD program’s other Automotive Technology Instructor. “They bring first-hand knowledge of what our students can expect, how things work and what they’ll experience in the shop. Park Place upper management comes into the classroom to tell our students they can have more than a job – they can have a career. It shows the students that what they’re learning on campus transfers directly out there.”
Park Place has a similar partnership with the John Dubiski Career High School in Grand Prairie ISD. Students are fully engaged with Park Place and a dozen students have been hired to full-time positions after graduation.
“We’re always looking to the future,” concluded Carimi. “The auto industry is evolving at a more rapid pace than ever before in its 100-plus-year history. With alternative energy sources, computerized systems and autonomous vehicles, the need for a highly educated and well-trained workforce is more important than ever. Park Place is determined to remain the leaders within our industry.”
Ken Schnitzer founded Park Place Dealerships in 1987 with a single Mercedes-Benz dealership on Oak Lawn. Today, Park Place Dealerships employs more than 2,000 people and represents luxury brands including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Lotus, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Bugatti, McLaren, and Maserati. For more info, visit parkplace.com.