Noah Teffeteller recently moved to Nashville, and the roar of a ’67 Camaro was the perfect send-off for the next phase of his academic career.
Teffeteller graduated from Bearden High School last spring after becoming the first Bearden student to earn designation as an ASE-certified auto technician.
In late August, he started his first semester at Lincoln College of Technology in East Nashville, where he is pursuing a 13-month program in diesel technology.
The path from Bearden to Lincoln Tech is a great example of the opportunities that are available to Career Technical Education students within KCS.
Rob Dyer, Teffeteller’s CTE teacher at Bearden, said the auto tech program brings students up to speed on a variety of state standards, including steering, brakes, suspension and underbody work.
Much of that experience is hands-on learning, including the chance to work on a 1967 Camaro.
Dyer is a former heavy-equipment mechanic and service tech who describes himself as “a big gearhead.” On a recent morning outside the Bearden CTE building, Dyer started up the Camaro to demonstrate the aggressive rumble of the vehicle’s engine and said he enjoys helping students learn about a career path that can lead to a good living – while also working on projects they enjoy.
“It gets the kids pumped up,” he said. “To see the smile on their faces when they do hands-on work with a hot rod or on a custom vehicle makes it all worthwhile.”
The program can also pay dividends down the road. Dyer said that when Teffeteller graduates from Lincoln Tech, he’ll be in line to make as much as $25 an hour and could earn a six-figure salary once he gets sufficient experience.
Teffeteller said that he was somewhat interested in auto mechanics before entering the CTE program, but when he started at Bearden, “I just really enjoyed it and wanted to make a career out of it.”
Teffeteller’s experience has also come in handy outside the classroom. He is among the hundreds of KCS students who have participated in the Top Wrench competition, which is sponsored by a local nonprofit. The annual event includes a Pit Crew challenge, a Custom Paint Contest and a Welding/Fabrication Contest. This year’s competition will be held Oct. 31 at Crown College.
Earlier in August, he replaced the fuel filter in his 25-year-old F-150 pickup, a project he did on his own time.
In achieving the Automotive Service Excellence designation, Teffeteller not only gained the knowledge necessary to pass the certification test, but he also garnered a credential that will significantly enhance his resume.
“It proves that he finishes what he starts, which is very important in this industry,” said Marc Bishop, an admissions representative for Lincoln Tech.
Bishop said demand is high for diesel technicians right now, due to a shortage of qualified workers around the world. Teffeteller’s training, he said, will include a heavy emphasis on the computer systems that are included in backhoes and other diesel-powered equipment, adding that he will meet some 400 employers during his time in the program.
“They’ll be fighting to have him work for them,” Bishop said.
Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website.