New Mexico High School Launches Auto Body Certification Program

The new program was implemented in response to students' interest in careers in auto body repair.

Highland High School.

Highland High School in Albuquerque, NM, along with the ABC Community School Partnership, has introduced a new auto body certification program, meeting student career interests and providing future opportunities.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Bernalillo County officials announced the partnership in March, in response to a demand from students keen on pursuing careers in auto body work.

According to Jake Mirabal, interim co-director of the county’s Community School Innovation and Strategic Partnerships Department, the new program shows the value of community engagement in shaping educational pathways that resonate with student interests and needs.

The county has allocated $95,000 to fund the initiative, covering instructor salaries and program costs, and offering $1,000 stipends to students who complete the pilot program. The instructors, who are seasoned auto body professionals with a local business, bring real-world experience to the classroom. The pilot program has already seen enrollment from 20 students.

Another comprehensive 36-week program is scheduled to start this fall.

“When you really do some authentic community engagement and you try to partner with the community … there’s a lot of hope and future opportunities for students,” Mirabal told the news outlet.

Tom McFinch, senior manager of field sales at I-CAR, said I-CAR was excited to meet with the TEAM: Technology, Education, Automotive Management program at the school and to show its support by engaging with the students and staff, as well as the surrounding Albuquerque community.

"It is inspiring to see how engaged the attendees -- parents and shop participants -- were to make a difference in the lives of these young people and show them career opportunities and what their futures can become," McFinch said.

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