Gary Bronson, an industrial diesel mechanics instructor at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, Ohio, was honored as one of three winners of the 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Teaching Excellence prize.
Bronson has taught industrial diesel mechanics at Laurel Oaks for eight years and has nearly two decades of experience as a as a professional diesel technician. Bronson told Harbor Freight he became a full-time instructor because he wanted to be a role model for future generations.
“I always try to post success stories of students to draw interest from the outside and promote my program,” Bronson said. “I also post job openings and pictures of field trips and projects. This gives students much needed recognition and also helps to dispel the myth that vocational schools are a dumping ground or for the ‘bad kids.’ Many parents still hold these old biases until they set foot on our campus. Unfortunately, it is hard to get them on campus but once they do and speak with an advisory member or former student; they become believers!”
Students tackle electrical projects such as working on mobility scooters, large boats and even jet skis. Student teams begin their education learning about shop safety and procedures and eventually advance to engine work. On the diesel side, students work on a International ProStar truck, which debuted at the Cavalcade of Customs auto show in Cincinnati. Bronson also makes sure to emphasize his students learn and practice soft skills
Under Bronson’s teachings, the class of 2018 had an 87% passage rate for Diesel Engines, 92% for Electrical, 92% for Steering and Suspension, and 96% for Maintenance. Additionally, all of his students received their OSHA 10 card and Forklift Certification and five students passed all four areas of the student ASE tests. Bronson also told Harbor Freight 82% of his students are employed, joined the military or are going on to college; 56% are employed in a related industry.
“Being a former vocational student, I know the lifelong impact a vocational education can have on a student,” Bronson said. “I enjoy being able to give back to my students in and out of school.”
As a first place winner, Bronson’s program will be awarded $70,000 and he will be awarded $30,000.
For more information about Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, visit harborfreighttoolsforschools.org.