Internship allows high school students to work on school buses

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Students at one Houston ISD school are rolling up their sleeves and working on buses.

It's part of a one-of-a-kind internship program to get high school students ready to take on the automotive industry.

"This is actually "hands on," learning how to do it," senior Jose Garcia said.

Two days a week, a group of 10 students from Sterling Aviation High School travel to the Houston ISD bus barn off Telephone Road. Instead of cars, they work on the district's big yellow school buses, as part of an internship program in automotive technology.

"We have the largest transportation department in our own backyard, so why not take advantage of it?" HISD teacher John Chilo told us.

Chilo developed the program five years ago with the goal of getting each kid career or college ready with skills they can use in the real world.

"Today we already learned how the AC works and how the cooling systems work," Garcia explained.

The program is a win-win for the district.

The students get hands on training, and the district gains much needed help at the bus barn.

"We are constantly looking for mechanics," Andres Montes, HISD Bus Barn supervisor, said.

Montes says there's not just a shortage of technicians at HISD, but across the industry, and he's looking to hire straight out of the program.

"Once I graduate, I come here and have my experience already, so when another class comes I could teach the students what I learned," senior Gilbert Garcia said.

"I have been teaching for 27 years. I'm a product of career technology. I started off in the same area as these kids are right now," Chilo explained.

The students learn about more than just belts, tubes, and machinery. They also learn about responsibility on the job.

Students must maintain a B or C average to be in the program. Upon graduation, students will have earned eight different professional certifications.

Average salaries for professional automotive technicians start around $35,000.

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