“As a skilled trades teacher, I have the amazing opportunity to teach, mentor, and be an essential part of my student’s career development. What I love most about teaching is that I get the chance to impact the lives of forty-eight young men and women each year.”

Jared Monroe is an automotive instructor at Columbia Area Career Center in Columbia, Missouri – the same career center he attended in high school, where he took a small gas engine class with a teacher whose challenging and inspiring approach he still remembers today. Monroe graduated from Nashville Automotive Diesel College and worked in dealerships and independent repair facilities, quickly gaining experience with a wide range of vehicles and obtaining his Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Master Certification and advanced level certifications. After nine years in industry, Monroe was offered the opportunity to return to Columbia Area Career Center as a teacher and take over the automotive program. He accepted the challenge, excited to make a positive impact on his future students the way his teachers had on him.

Monroe teaches a Maintenance and Light Repair ASE/NATEF-accredited program, which prepares students for entry-level careers in transportation mechanics and repair. When students complete Monroe’s curriculum, they are qualified to enter the industry as entry-level general service technicians and are eligible to take the entry-level ASE certification test. Monroe has also transitioned the program into a simulated workplace shop model with a service counter, parts counter, and technician bays where students serve as foremen and technicians. They also complete scenario-based assessments after learning about speciality equipment like brakes, steering and suspension, and electrical diagnostic tools.

To help connect students to additional education and career opportunities, Monroe works with industry partners in the local community. His students participate in the Ford ACE Program, which allows them to earn manufacturer-specific certifications while in his program. Monroe facilitates job shadowing, an industry speaker series, and career showcases, where service managers and shop owners can engage directly with students and parents. He also showcases his students’ skills and achievements; last year, for example, they held an oil change clinic for district employees.

Students who complete Monroe’s program pursue diverse paths, with some going directly to industry and others enrolling in post-secondary education or joining the military. They all share an appreciation for the skills and lessons learned in Monroe’s classes. One former student now in the military shared that the skills he obtained in the program helped him progress more quickly in his training. Another former student began working at a dealership after high school – after two years, he was able to buy a house for himself and his parents. These stories keep Monroe motivated to keep showing up and giving his all for his students every day.

Monroe previously was a finalist for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

“As I reflect on my first few years of teaching, I can’t help but see the similarities between how I felt walking into my classroom for the first time and how many students must feel at the beginning of each year. Not only have they just walked into an environment that can be demanding, intimidating, and dangerous, but they are surrounded by cars, tools, and equipment that are all new to them. I love being the individual who gets to introduce them to the unique experiences of working in a shop environment.”