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2021 Prize Winner

Gary Weese

Automotive Technology

Caddo Career & Technology Center, LA

“I love to see a student’s eyes light up with excitement as they obtain mastery over an automotive task. Now that’s great, but let’s add some more excitement to this by having them train other students how to do the task they just mastered.”

Gary Weese has been an automotive technology instructor at Caddo Career & Technology Center in Shreveport, Louisiana for 22 years. After a long career in automotive repair, Weese toured his local Career Center and discovered that the program was not aligned with current automotive standards, and was missing an instructor. Drawing on his years of experience in the automotive industry and training in the United States Air Force, he made the jump to teaching.

A year after its launch, Weese’s program was certified by the Automotive Service Education Foundation (formerly known as NATEF), and was the first automotive program to achieve a perfect score in the certification process. Many Iof Weese’s students also participate in the Automotive Youth Education System (AYES) internship program, where they train to become technicians in automotive dealerships across the country. “A key point about hiring our students is that they have been taught the soft skills and work ethics which are a part of everyday class operation, and something the instructors believe that is led by example,” Weese said. The program was recognized as one of the top five schools in the nation in the implementation of the AYES model.

Weese’s students participate in SkillsUSA, the national career and technical education student organization, and some have been selected as members of the National Technical Honor Society. Weese’s students have won first place in Louisiana SkillsUSA automotive competitions in eight of the last 10 years, and one of his students was the first female winner of a SkillsUSA automotive competition in the state.

Weese has been an ASE Certified Master Automotive Technician for the last 45 years. He continues to help operate his family’s automotive repair business, and keeps up to date with the latest technological developments through this work, as well as via professional development and conferences. He has a masters degree in Educational Leadership, as well as Marketing and Finance degrees. Weese, who served in the United States Air Force, has won several awards including National Teacher of the Year from the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

“With an average of four to five speakers a year, several field trips a year, a multitude of job shadowing experiences, and a number of competitions, our students experienced a tremendous amount of guidance, training, and evaluation.”