LOS ANGELES — The end-of-class bell has rung, but three boys still are tinkering with a car on a lift in the auto shop of the charter school run by Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services in this city's Highland Park neighborhood.
Finally, shop teacher Brian Kies tells the boys to leave so they won't be late for their next class. "It's hard to get them to stop working," Kies says.
Student Samuel Magana, 18, says he likes the "hands on" instruction. The class has whetted his interest in exploring a career as a service technician, he adds.
Optimist, a nonprofit corporation, works with at-risk young people. The auto repair program at the boarding school for boys teaches the basics of fixing vehicles.
The hope is that the students will enroll in a degree program at one of the many community colleges in the Los Angeles area that offer service tech training.
Income from fixed operations is increasingly crucial to the profitability of new-vehicle dealerships, but finding talented service techs can be hard. Dealerships and dealer associations are partnering with community colleges and other educational institutions to train tomorrow's techs.
That investment pays off for the dealerships, the schools and the students.