Auto shop

In this Auto-Shop class, life lessons were part of the curriculum

Ms. Lerch bought her new Camaro with a 305-cubic-inch V8 rated at 145 horsepower. With a curb weight of over 3,400 pounds, he was considered somewhat anemic. It added an optional automatic transmission, air conditioning, and the LT package, which included bucket seats, console, tachometer, and clock, none of which improved performance.

Still, she named the car Little Monster, “just because it was powerful and fast,” she said. Love is blind.

Helped by her employer to obtain a master’s degree in public relations, she decided that she would later take a course for fun. Ms. Lerch wasn’t sure what it might be until a catalog from the local adult education program arrived in the mail.

“That’s what I wanted the most,” she remembers thinking. “Automobile mechanic.”

Her dedication to auto repair and Little Monster was cemented when she was confronted by the soft-spoken African American man at the teacher’s office who would teach her not just how to change spark plugs, but how conduct themselves in business and in life.

“For me, this course was life changing thanks to Bill Campbell,” she said.

In fact, Ms. Lerch would take this course every term offered, or about 15 semesters in all, she said. She was not the only one: the students developed an alert system so that the first person to receive the catalog telephoned regulars to rush their applications.

Part of the attraction was the environment created by Mr. Campbell.

“He was someone I could really trust, and he was really there for us, and I can’t say that about a lot of teachers I’ve had in my life,” Mr Rains said. .

For Ms. Lerch, auto repair was a welcome contrast to the business world.

“If you did it right, it worked,” she said. “There was no politics – not like the corporate world.”