“I’ve always had packed classes.”
Central Nine Career Center automotive instructor Andrice Tucker made that comment following a surprise honor last week in front of his family and students.
Tucker was surrounded by automotive students as he was recognized as a 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, winning $15,000 for his teachings and $35,000 for the automotive program at Central Nine. The sixth-year instructor is one of 20 teachers honored nationally.
Tucker’s wife Amanda and their daughters, Adrianah and Aveleigh, joined in the festivities in the bays at Central Nine. The girls held balloons and later got to hold the gigantic $50,000 award.
While talking with Tucker, there’s a reason why he has taught more than 250 students at the career center that includes seven Southside school districts and two outside the Southside in Johnson County.
“I’m doing this for the students and our school,” Tucker explained to the gathering. “This is their future, now.”
He understands there are on true ways to teach and there are many ways for students to learn.
Tucker, a Franklin Central High School/Central Nine graduate, wants to not only help them learn while at Central Nine, especially those who become interns at auto dealerships while in school, and to earn jobs in the automotive industry. That’s the path that Tucker followed as a student at Central Nine where he also was an intern at a Firestone Complete Auto Care center where he eventually worked for 14 years from a general service technician to lead technician. He noticed a particular lack of prior training which led him to become an instructor at Central Nine.
He has nine ASE certifications and an associate degree in automotive technology.
“Their training here (C9) is second to none,” Tucker said. “Getting them in here gives them real world experience, working on real cars and putting them back on the road. They not only have that responsibility, but they truly understand how to work on the cars.”
Tucker also revealed that he also learned at C9 about the discipline that is expected on the job.
“Understanding that was a big deal for me, the discipline to show up to work on time, every day, and listening to my managers,” he explained.
After introducing his students to theory-based discussions drawn from the ASE NATEF curriculum, Tucker divides his class for hands-on experience on teams where they can build communication skills and work through diagnostic and repair assignments on the 26 vehicles that have been donated to the program. Those experiences prepare his students for available internships with partnered dealerships, independent shops, and local retail facilities.
As to the need for skilled and qualified automotive technicians, Tucker grinned and said, “I get calls from dealerships every day saying they need kids.”
And he enjoys hearing from managers and industry contacts through the years about how well his students are doing in auto shops, post-secondary programs, and dealerships.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program began in 2017 to honor outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools.
Danny Corwin, executive director of the program, noted that “we cannot overstate the impact that high school skilled trades teachers are having in the classroom.”
The 2022 award-winning teachers from 15 states represented skilled trades careers in automotive, construction, carpentry, industrial technology, welding, agricultural mechanics, and machinery.