By Tyler Crowell,
Ever since he was a kid, Auto Shop Teacher Robert Thayer has been fascinated with cars and how they worked. Currently Thayer teaches basic and advanced auto at Davis High. But his foray into fixing cars got off to a rough start.
After graduating from high school, Thayer started working on cars.
“I failed miserably,” Thayer said.
He had no prior schooling on cars so he was forced to teach himself. Thayer says he learned from his mistakes, but that he does not recommend for students to follow the same path that he did.
After experimenting with cars, Thayer decided to take a brief break and majored in English at Hamilton College, a small private college in New York.
After finishing college, Thayer decided to follow his passion and worked as an automotive technician for nine years.
Wanting to give something back, Thayer taught English at a school for children with learning disabilities.
When Thayer decided to teach auto he was already more than qualified. Because it was a career tech engineering class, he was required to demonstrate his proficiency in the field and have a minimum number of years worked in that field. His time as a technician helped him satisfy both of those prerequisites.
Oddly enough, his time as an English major at Hamilton College also helped him teach at DHS. It satisfied the district’s requirement for a bachelor’s degree.
Thayer teaches two levels of classes, basic and advanced auto. He teaches the classes differently and has different goals in mind for each class.
In basic auto, Thayer’s students spend most of their time in the classroom where they watch videos, study textbooks, and take tests. According to sophomore Scott Dunn, who is in Thayer’s basic auto class, the class focuses on lecture based learning.
(Course requests are due in April and Davis High students are beginning to consider what classes to take. One option is Basic Auto, a hands-on elective course.
Chloe Sommer has the story, co-produced by Lily Holmes.)
Thayer hopes that students who complete basic auto will be more knowledgeable about fixing their own cars and purchasing new ones. He also hopes that students learn how to do basic inspection and maintenance on their cars.
In advanced auto, Thayer’s students spend most of their time in the shop where they work on cars. Thayer hopes that by the end of advanced auto, students are comfortable in fixing almost anything.
Students in Thayer’s classes appreciate what he does.
“He’s trying to help the community,” sophomore Scott Dunn said.
This sentiment is echoed by Sophomore Jacob Guerrero who says that he enjoys the activities done in class. Guerrero also says that Thayer is very knowledgeable about cars while being a laid back and approachable teacher.
Sophomore Paul David says that he has already learned a lot about cars after just the first quarter, and that he is looking forward to the rest of the year.
Thayer says that since students at DHS are, or will be, dependent on automobiles they should make it their jobs to know as much about them as possible.
“You have to understand something if you are going to be a slave to it,” Thayer said.
To any aspiring students who want to work as a mechanic, Thayer says that you are likely to make more money if you take classes than if you are self taught.