Collision repair instructor Lonnie Higey at Lorain County Joint Vocational School in Oberlin, OH, has a program focused on career employment and hands-on engagement while making things fun.
By achieving all three goals since taking the job seven years ago, Higey is proud of the fact this two-year high school program with sophomores shadowing is flourishing even during uncertain times.
After many years as a painter, estimator and manager in the collision repair industry at the dealership level, Higey decided to pursue a second career as the new collision instructor at Lorain County JVS.
“I started with 13 students, with 12 boys and one girl in my first class,” he said. “Then the State of Ohio asked us if we would like to participate in the Paint-A-Plow, which is a community outreach program in which students are invited to paint an Ohio Department of Transportation snow plow blade with original artwork to represent their individual school.”
The snow plows were just the beginning, Higey said.
“I took a chance and had them drop off four plows for us to paint," he said. "I quickly realized that prepping these plows would teach the students all the basics in body work, which also opened up a new world in the program.”
After success with the Paint-A-Plow experience, Higey began looking around to take on all kinds of interesting projects.
“We’ve painted RVs, horse cart wagons, even mixers for local bakeries,” he said. “We painted a Chevy Corvette for the sheriff’s department and a few for a local Corvette club. We also completely restored a van for the Lorain County Salvation Army and another one for the local juvenile court system.
"I believe in having students do service work in my classes because giving back is so important and it contributes to the growth of the program.”
Throughout the years, the collision repair program at Lorain County JVS has grown considerably...