By Glenn Collins
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 3:53 PM
|Kelsey Barnes, Todd Hodd, Mike Batchelor, Clint Carter, Fedrico Marchan, and Bill Bishop next to the Shelby Cobra replica|
A unique car at this weekend's “World of Wheels” in Birmingham, was born of love, sweat, dedication, and education right here in Haleyville. It's copperhead orange with twin, white racing stripes up the hood, and it does over 200 miles per hour. And you shouldn't be surprised to see a teacher driving it, or maybe a school's administrator in the passenger seat. It's a replica of a Factory5 Roadster, commonly called a Shelby Cobra, or, as it is known around campus at the Haleyville Center of Technology: simply, “the Cobra.”
In August of 2005, Auto Tech Instructor Mike Batchelor, began looking for a way to promote Career Technology Education at HCT. He thought that if students had an unusual car to work on, they might get more involved in the program. He was right
According to Bill Bishop, administrator at HCT, “I don't know anyone else doing anything like this anywhere with the results Mike is getting.” Bishop added, “I love what the project is doing for our auto technology classes and our students.” He said the Cobra “has been a huge success for our students. It has improved student conduct and attendance and has created a family-like atmosphere for both the CTSO and Mike's auto technology classes. It is what career tech is all about.”
The project cars Batchelor initiated have been a huge success, and participation in the program has nearly doubled. “The reasoning for the project cars came from the idea of promoting better conduct and attendance, and building loyalty to our Career Tech Student Organization, or CTSO,” Batchelor said.
Both Batchelor and Bishop said that one of the greatest benefits from these project cars is the leadership gained by the CTSO officers. The officers set the class rules and guidelines required to participate in the projects. Students must maintain at least a 90 average in Auto Technology and a C average in core classes with no major discipline problems and no unexcused absences from work on the project. The class now has nearly 90 students per day, compared to 50 about two years ago.
And neither of them believe they could have accomplished so much without the support of Superintendent Clint Baggett, the Board of Education, and the vendors who have helped along the way. Vendors include Bennett Racing and NAPA
This is not men only. Currently, 15 female students participate in the project, and one has accepted a scholarship to UAH in mechanical engineering.
Also, students have been awarded scholarships from Wyotech, NADC, Wallace State, Bevill State, Northwest Shoals, Lawson State, Thompson Tractor Think Big Program, and others.
Batchelor said, “I believe that success is teaching outside the box and helping students see that setting goals both in class and in life can take them to new and different places.” This weekend, students find him absolutely correct: destination “World of Wheels.”