On Aug. 21, Women in Automotive and Collision (WAC) held its monthly meeting at Firestone Complete Auto Care in St. Louis.
In addition to guest speaker Ashley Benne of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), the meeting featured a brief story from Mercedes, a 16-year-old interested in the collision repair industry, who met WAC President Shelly Jones at an open house at South County Tech last year.
Jones shared, “[Mercedes] told me she wanted to find a job at a restoration shop. She was struggling to find a shop to hire her because of her age and having to work around her school schedule. As she put it, she wanted to work in a shop and would be happy sweeping the floors around cars. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to attend South Tech because her home school does not participate in the half-day program. A couple of months later, I told a collision shop near her home about her. The rest is history.”
“It has been exciting to keep track of [Mercedes’] success. It has been a great learning experience for her, and they love her [at the collision shop]. She plans on going to college and staying in the industry. Mercedes and a representative from the shop attended the 8/21 WAC meeting, and Mercedes told the group her story and offered to work WAC events to talk to other students,” Jones continued. “This experience brought it home for me – why we are doing what we do at WAC.”
The guest speaker for the meeting, Benne of PLTW, delivered an informative presentation on the program, the curriculum they offer students, and the training and development they provide to teachers. Jones said, “The presentation led to many ideas for us to consider, such as having a WAC table at STEM nights and for our group or members to provide industry-related learning experiences to teachers on professional development days. PLTW encourages hands-on and problem-solving in their STEM curriculum.”