Darren Jones was a student at Semiahmoo Secondary School when he “maxed out” his woodworking credits and had to take the auto program.
He wasn’t looking forward to it.
“I didn’t want to be in auto, I didn’t really care about cars whatsoever,” Jones recalled.
But then he met Kerry Riedlinger, the teacher in charge.
“I had a wonderful shop teacher. An amazing man, still a good friend of mine to this day,” Jones explained.
“He really just inspired a passion for me with this stuff. He just made auto fun. It was a fun place to be.”
For the last 17 years, as automotive instructor at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS) , Jones has been doing much the same for his students.
“High school is a confusing time,” Jones related.
“It can be a tough time. So just having a spot that I could go to at lunch and hang out, the passion kind of came organically from that point. I definitely think that’s reflected in my teaching. I want to provide that same experience for kids, that you can come in here knowing nothing [or] you can come in here knowing a lot, it doesn’t matter, there’s always something to learn and it’s always just a good place to come hang out.
Some who come to the program just want to learn how to work on their own vehicles while others plan to make a career of it, and both can be accommodated.
Students at ACSS can take a first-semester course that gives them the essentials, while a more advanced second semester course if open to students throughout the Langley school district.
Jones calls it a “live shop” with teacher’s vehicles, student vehicles, and customers from the community.
“My overall game plan is for kids to come in here and be open to learning, have a good time, and see that it can be fun to do this stuff,” Jones explained .
“Because kids come in from a variety of angles, we teach from a variety of angles.”
ACSS principal Mike Palichuk described Jones as a someone who “has a huge love for teaching” and operates from a position of mutual respect.
“He’s been a big part of helping them [students] find a passion in their life,” Palichuk said.
“The magic he has, is inspiring kids.”
Student Dominic Vince calls Jones an “amazing teacher” and mentor.
Brody Adams quoted a favourite Jones saying about not rushing, that “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
“He connects well with the students,” Adams said.
Parents Deanna and Gary Monson call Jones “exceptional.”
When their son, Jacob, enrolled in the Youth Train in Trades Program, as well as the Automotive program, they said they were “absolutely beyond impressed by what goes on in Mr. Jones’ classroom.”
We expected that our son would learn about the different aspects of the automotive industry, and gain some valuable knowledge, to which he most certainly did. What we did not expect is that Mr. Jones would be such a positive influence on his students, even outside of the trade.”
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In their letter nominating Jones, the Monsons praised him for helping their son learn how to properly study, for teaching students how their actions and interactions “can have an effect on each person you come into contact with and how important it is to make these interactions positive. Even a smile/handshake or just a hello can change a person’s whole day.”
“Words don’t seem to do justice to explain the profound and positive impact this man has had on our son,” they said.
Jacob added his own message of support, calling his former teacher “an education hero for more reasons than I can fit into this email.”
When Jacob lost a friend who died as a result of a car accident, it “hit me harder than expected and Jones helped me cope through it,” he shared.
Two years after he graduated, Jacob still drops by to talk to Jones.
He “truly goes above and beyond just being a teacher,” Jacob said.
“Jones piles so much on his plate for other people and truly is one of the the most selfless people I’ve ever met. I really wish every student could have Jones impact their life the way he has impacted mine and many others. “
More about the ACSS auto program can be found online at https://acssautoshop.weebly.com.
Is there more to the story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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