Atlanta I-CAR Committee, CREF Strengthen Local Schools’ Collision Programs – BodyShop Business
Dear Advisory Board: Thank you for your support and letting me learn how to repair body work on a car. Without your help, and Mr. Goodwin’s teaching, I probably wouldn’t have learned what I learned this semester.
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You guys have done so much for our class. We can’t thank you enough!
Collision repair students at Paulding County High School (PCHS) in Dallas, Ga., sent handwritten notes to members of their program’s advisory board after the school’s second annual Small Car Race, an end-of-year project where students race the six-inch-long small cars they’ve built using recycled car parts.
Hayden Swank, a late-model race car driver with NASCAR aspirations, stands at the starting line of Paulding County High School’s second annual Small Car Race.
“By building these cars, the students learn skills like design, sanding, metal work, welding and painting, but in addition to allowing them to develop basic skills, this project helps build their self-confidence,” says Melissa Dunn, chair of the PCHS advisory board and co-chair of training for the Atlanta I-CAR Committee. “Students were so proud of the cars they built, and many asked for advice on how they could have improved the design and paint after the races. Returning students will take what they learned this year — and the feedback received — to build a better car for next year’s race.”
Dunn estimates that around 100 people stopped by to watch the races, including Hayden Swank, a late-model race car driver with NASCAR aspirations.
“Students were excited to see Hayden — and they definitely felt the pressure to do well in front of a real race car driver,” Dunn says. “Hayden was wonderful to come to the event and support the school’s program … he even waved the green flag to start cars down the track!”
Built from Nothing
Last year’s Small Car Race generated enough attention to inspire several students to transfer into the auto body program for the 2021-2022 school year, which is only the second year for the collision repair program at PCHS. Instructor Leroy Goodwin taught automotive for six years, but he felt that he was doing students a disservice by not offering any auto body experience.
Instructor Leroy Goodwin has built Paulding County High School’s collision program from the ground up with help from the Atlanta I-CAR Committee and CREF.
“Two years ago, this program didn’t exist, but when the school agreed to let me add it, I started with nothing more than my personal tools and built it up from nothing,” says Goodwin.
But the program is growing strong. Two students competed in their state’s SkillsUSA competition this spring, with Goodwin’s advanced student taking third place in collision repair and his first-year student placing fourth in refinishing.
“His blending was dead-on; the judge couldn’t even find the blend lines,” Goodwin says. “I was so proud of them both. We also had our first collision graduate recently. He finished school with an ASE certification … and a job offer. We’ll have at least 20 students graduating next year.”
So how did Goodwin manage to establish and develop such a strong auto body program in a short amount of time … and on the school’s …….