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Decatur High School auto shop teacher moving to new district

Decatur High School automotive instructor Luke Thompson is moving on to Tahoma High School next year. - File photo
Decatur High School automotive instructor Luke Thompson is moving on to Tahoma High School next year.
— image credit: File photo

After seven years at Decatur High School, automotive shop teacher Luke Thompson is moving on.

Next year, Thompson will set up shop at Tahoma High School, which is being rebuilt with room for a brand new automotive shop program, he said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for me,” he said.

Tahoma High School, and Maple Valley, will be closer to family and friends, Thompson said.

Inspired by his high school shop teacher, teaching auto shop has always been Thompson’s career goal, he said.

The non-traditional classroom setting allows students to get hands-on career training in an environment similar to the workplace, Thompson said.

“We’re here to help prepare them for an industry,” he said.

Though the shop poses some unique challenges, including safety, seeing students finally solve a specific problem and be proud of their success is rewarding, Thompson said.

Thompson is leaving behind a fully functional program. In the last three years, auto shop students from Decatur High School have won the SkillsUSA state automotive service competition and competed in national competitions, Thompson said.

This week, Thompson returns to Kansas City, Missouri, to see a Decatur student compete once again.

Thompson also worked with the manager of the district’s bus garage to establish a job shadow program where shop students can get some real-world experience working with bus technicians, he said.

“Luke Thompson has been a huge asset to the automotive technology program at Decatur High School,” said Nancy Hawkins, director of career and technical education.

Some of Thompson’s students have gone on to take paid summer internships, she said.

“I just hope the students leave here with a better understanding of what it takes to work in the automotive industry,” Thompson said.

During his seven years at Decatur, Thompson estimates he has worked with 800 or 900 students.

“We wish Luke well in his new school district - we will surely miss him,” Hawkins said.

 

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