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‘2020 Instructor Of The Year’ Grand Finalists Announced

This program recognizes instructors with an unconventional approach and are committed to educating the best future techs.

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Since August of last year, Tomorrow’s Technician and The B’laster Corporation – makers of the penetrant, PB B’laster – have scoured the country searching for the second annual automotive technology B’laster Instructor of the Year.

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Seven monthly finalists were named from nominations received from students, civic leaders and school administrators and their stories were shared in Tomorrow’s Technician print and online portals.
In early May, B’laster selected four exceptional automotive technology instructors at high schools, vo-tech programs and community colleges across the United States, as Grand Finalists for the 2020 B’laster Instructor of the Year.

In alphabetical order, the Grand Finalists are:

Adam Arndt, Bonneville High School, Ogden, UT

Adam Arndt, Bonneville High School, Ogden, UT

In his profile, our September 2020 nominee shared how he integrates business practices, technology and auto competitions to keep his students motivated and driven to succeed.

Read Adam’s story here.

Adam Arndt has been the automotive instructor at Bonneville High School in Ogden, Utah, for the past eight years. He earned an associate degree in automotive at Modesto Junior College and a bachelor’s degree at Weber State University. Arndt is also the coordinator of the State Teachers Association for automotive teachers in Utah, and he co-produces an online monthly Professional Learning Community for all the automotive teachers in the region to help other teachers produce a guaranteed and viable curriculum for their programs.

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Ed Martin, Pickens Technical College, Aurora, CO

Ed Martin, Pickens Technical College, Aurora, CO

Our August 2020 Finalist said a cancer diagnosis changed his perspective on teaching and inspired him to create a breakfast program for students in need. 

Read Ed’s story here.

Ed Martin is the transportation chair and one of 6 automotive instructors at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, Colorado. Martin attended the automotive program at North Central Kansas Area Vocational Technical School in Beloit, Kansas, and started his career in Lincoln Nebraska working at a Ford dealership. He has 30 years of experience turning wrenches, primarily for Ford Motor Co. and as a former shop owner. Martin is an ASE Master Technician with additional certifications in Advanced Engine Performance, MLR, and Light Duty Diesel.

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Nic Wages, Jackson County Technology Center, Vancleave, MS

Nic Wages, Jackson County Technology Center, Vancleave, MS

Our March 2020 finalist in the annual “B’laster Instructor of the Year” program believes that pride in their abilities and in themselves will give his students the best chance for success. His passion for excellence – and fun – encourage his students to not only work hard but love their work.

Read Nic’s story here.

Nic Wages is a Master ASE certified technician, graduate from University of Southern Mississippi and lifelong resident of Vancleave, MS. Wages has taught at the Jackson County Technology Center for 15 years and has over 25 years of experience in the automotive industry. He believes in using an active-running automotive repair shop model to demonstrate and teach students diagnostic, effective repair techniques and provide a real-world example of success in the automotive industry.

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Derek Wray, Salem High School, Salem, VA

Derek Wray, Salem High School, Salem, VA

Our October 2020 Finalist shared how he teaches his students respect and service through a special program that provides car repair to elderly verterans.

Derek Wray has been teaching Automotive Technology for 16 years. He has an associate degree in Automotive and Diesel Technology from Universal Technical Institute in Houston, Texas, and worked as a professional automotive technician for 10 years. Mr. Wray is an ASE Master certified in Automotive and is also ASE certified in Heavy Trucks and Collision Repair. In 2005, Wray won the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence from Roanoke County Schools. In 2016, Wray was the Teacher of the Year for the entire Salem City School District. Wray is also a published author. In 2010, he wrote an ASE Test Prep Study Guide for Automotive Engine Performance and Driveability. 

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Read Derek’s story here.

“Celebrating the hardworking men and women in vo-tech classrooms across the country is a huge honor for us,” said Randy Pindor, president and chief operating officer of B’laster. “So many of these instructors are scraping together resources to provide cool learning opportunities for their students. We are excited to hear and share more of their inspiring stories, and to be able to support their projects.”

Each of the seven instructor finalists will receive:

• National recognition on Tomorrow’s Tech website, as well as through social media channels;

•A B’laster T-shirt; and

• B’laster products and swag for the classroom.

The 2020 Instructor of the Year will be announced via a special video tribute, and he and his school will receive a special celebration visit from Tomorrow’s Tech staff and B’laster. In addition, the Instructor of the Year will receive an exclusive video and web story on tomorrowstechnician.com; A $1,000 donation to the instructor’s auto program; a $500 Visa gift card for the instructor’s personal use; B’laster products for the classroom; and a one-of-a-kind B’laster Instructor of the Year trophy.

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Last year’s winner was Joe Mendola from Gaither High School in Tampa, Florida.

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