Students Teaching Students

To have a working knowledge of how an engine works is great, but being able to teach others is a learning experience in itself. Elkhart Area Career Center students get to test their own knowledge while teaching younger students to work on small engines, just like they do! Fourteen students between 5th through 8th grade, in partnership with the ETHOS program, had an opportunity to visit the Elkhart Area Career Center and learn about how small engines work. In the following week, they will be back to finish the project and see their engines run.

When Ryan Gortney, Motorcycle/Outdoor Power Technology Instructor, learned there were students who were interested in learning about small engines, he volunteered to host the event. It would not only be a great experience for the fourteen ETHOS students but an opportunity for his students too. The EACC students will grow in knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of how the engines work as they teach the younger students. It is an opportunity for them to build a mentor relationship with the students, to learn the importance of sharing a skill and to be a positive influence on others. The ETHOS students love the experience of working with their hands in the lab, they get to learn a new skill, learn about a career path, or a future hobby. The younger students start to realize these juniors and seniors could be them in a few years.

Making connections with students at a young age, learning with a hands on application in an environment where students get one on one attention is part of what makes these partnerships so functional. Mr. Gortney explains, “future graduates of the program could go on to higher education or to take a position right out of high school, the future job opportunities are endless; Motorcycle Technicians, Power Equipment Technicians, Marine Service, Agricultural Specialist, Sales, Service and Tech Support, Municipalities, Diesel and Heavy Equipment and Professional Race Teams, are just a few of the current fields I have graduates employed in.”

Mr. Gortney advises the visiting students and others who are interested in the field of small engines, “they need to be willing to work hard and get dirty. While working in the lab/shop on the hands-on portion, students have to show me and prove they excel when they are given the opportunity to be ‘hands on learners.’ We can go from theory of how something functions to actually disassembling and reassembling the actual item. Students learn how it actually functions. If students always remember to be willing to work hard, they will be successful.”

“When we say that we are preparing our students to be College and Career ready, it is not just a phrase, but something that we take very seriously,” continues Gortney. “Our students are earning an immense amount of college credit and an astronomical amount of scholarship money to better help them prepare for their future. We have several students that will earn full ride scholarships through the two years spent here at the EACC. It’s the foundation of the hard work mentality and never settling for anything less than your best that sets the EACC apart and sets our students apart.”

The Elkhart Area Career Center regularly hosts students from Elkhart Community Schools and neighboring districts visit for field trips and tours of the facility. Sixth grade students from ECS schools tour the EACC every fall, and middle school students have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on summer career camp. The EACC regularly provides tours for neighboring schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations.