On the day when teachers returned to school to begin preparations for the 2014-15 school year, Havelock High instructor Tommy Andrews was in for a big surprise.
Before Principal Jeff Murphy started his first faculty meeting of the new school year on Monday, he said he had a “special announcement.” Andrews had been named the N.C. Trades and Industrial Education Teachers Association New Teacher of the Year.
“They kept it a pretty good secret,” Andrews said. “It’s a surprise for sure.”
The award covers teachers throughout the state.
“I feel great. It’s pretty awesome,” Andrews said of the honor. “Anytime you get something like this and it’s a surprise, it’s pretty cool.”
Andrews was hired as the new automotive technology and mechanics instructor in January. The award is for career and technical education teachers with less than five years of experience.
He said his approach in the classroom is simple.
“My main thing is to get these students ready for work,” Andrews said. “I try to teach it as any working environment. I run it just like a shop. That’s the main thing.”
But Andrews also recognizes that not everyone who takes his classes is aiming to be an automotive mechanic.
“I want to teach them a skill,” he said. “They come into class, and I understand that not everyone wants to work on cars. Some of them may think that they just want to take a class. But, they can still learn a skill.”
Andrews said students interested in auto mechanics have to learn a wide variety of skills because of the computerized and technical nature of today’s modern vehicles.
“These days, 80 percent of car repairs is electrical and problem-solving,” he said. “Those that can get that in their heads and understand the electrical side of it, they can go pretty far in it and find they do really like it. There still is that get in there and get your hands dirty work, but they’re really no longer mechanics. They’re technicians.”
Andrews said the school was looking to update its certification through the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. The certification would mean that the Havelock High program would meet or exceed appropriate standards, which he said would benefit the students.
“We’re going to try to help some of these kids get jobs while they’re still in school,” he said.
Andrews thanked school officials for support of the Havelock High program.
“They spent a lot of money rebuilding this program,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of new equipment, and I appreciate that and their investment in me, and we’re going to keep going the way it’s going.”