Roni Standley, who was recently named the automotive instructor at Rigby High School, Rigby, ID, was a 2002 participant in the Ford/AAA Auto Skills national event.
Standley, originally from Helena, MT, is the youngest of three daughters. “My passion for vehicles was sparked at a young age by a combination of my family’s involvement in an old car club, called the Hudson Club, and the influence of my father, who was a welding instructor,” she said.
“As I entered high school, I pursued my interest by taking shop classes; three years of welding and two years of automotive. It was here that I got a taste for the satisfaction and thrill of being able to fix and repair things, especially ones own vehicle.”
Standley, who upon graduation from high school went on to college at MSU-Northern in Havre, MT, continued to study automotive and auto body. “At this point, my plan was to have a profession either restoring classic vehicles or working as a corporate suit for Toyota,” she said.
During her three years in Havre, Standley learned many things, painted a few classic cars and had a pretty good time.
“However, as it came time for me to graduate I realized that I didn’t want to work in a shop or in a cubicle; neither one of those would make me happy. What I really loved was the educational automotive shop setting,” she explained.
“It combines the smells, tools and vehicles of a shop with the excitement of learning new things, fixing vehicles and learning a valuable trade – all in one class!”
Realizing that she wanted to be an automotive instructor at the high school level, Standley moved to Pittsburg, KS, for three years and earned a bachelors degree in Technology Education at Pittsburg State University.
Through all of her education, Standley’s interest in old vehicles never diminished. “My latest accomplishment is the complete restoration of my 1968 Volkswagen Type 3, which is the square back model, and now my daily drive,” she said.
Standley said she took the first month of this summer and completely stripped it down – gutted the interior, sanded the exterior and removed the engine for some repairs. “Then I put the engine back in, painted the car, and proceeded to redo the interior."
"Having never done interior work before, this was a true learning experience that was a bit trying at times, but when it was all said and done, it looks pretty darn sharp,” she said.
Standley said she looks forward to her new career path as an auto instructor. “It’s very exciting – I’m setting up shop, going through tool rooms and planning to build an awesome program.”
Occasionally, people question her about being a female and working in the automotive industry and being an automotive instructor. “Honestly, I don’t think gender has a whit to do with anything, and I truly believe that anyone can be anything they want to be, if they set their mind to it,” Standley said.