Forsyth Technical Community College

Three years ago, Dave Moore approached Forsyth Technical Community College to start a program to teach auto body repair and life skills to at risk youth in attempts to steer them away from the drug and gang life. Forsyth Tech recognized Moore’s passion and commitment to helping at risk youth gain employment, and made his introduction to auto body course part of its continuing education catalog.

“Dave said he wanted to teach and he was committed to helping at risk youth,” said Ron Berra, Director of Human Resource Development Programs Corporate and Continuing Education at Forsyth Tech. “We said if you’ve got the students, we can make it a course.”

Moore did have the students to start the course, and began as an “agency” program with the college. An agency program is unlike an open course with the university; students must enroll with Moore and bypass enrolling through Forsyth Tech.

“Students enroll through Dave. Many are court approved and some are just interested in taking the course,” said Berra. “When he gets 10 to 15 students, we start the class."

According to Berra, instructors in agency courses create the syllabus and the material they want to use, and Forsyth Tech provides content and organization consultation.

"The class was originally taught at Forsyth Tech but moved to the SouthSide Rides in shop classroom last year,” said Berra. “This move was after Moore received donor support to build a new shop to meet safety codes, and Forsyth Tech facility codes.”

The curriculum has evolved since its inception in 2007 as SouthSide Rides grew. The primary course, introduction to auto body, is comprised of 33 classroom hours that teach the principle and procedures of auto body repair and painting. Recently, Moore requested that nine of the 33 hours teach job readiness for interview and resume skills. These hours would primarily focus on human resource development. Forsyth Tech agreed and the course now includes job training. For students who are unemployed or that meet an income level, the fee for this course is waived.

Moore also began teaching an auto body occupational course, which became part of the Forsyth Tech curriculum this year. This course provides hands-on experience in customized painting and repair. The course costs $125, but many students receive scholarship and grants to offset the cost.

Grades in the course are based on participation. Students must successfully pass introduction to autobody to be eligible to take the occupational course.

“The success rate is fairly good for our programs,” said Berra. “Seventy percent of the class passes the class usually.”

Today, many students have passed the courses at SouthSide Rides. Upon completion of a course, students receive a certificate of completion from Forsyth Tech. This certificate gives many students the opportunity to enter the workforce and get away from gang life. Courses continue to evolve at SouthSide Rides. According to Berra, Forsyth Tech hopes to have a GED course up and running at the shop soon.

“Dave is a driving force,” said Berra. “He has great knowledge for cars and relates well to the community at SouthSide Rides. We need more places like that.”

-- Meredith-Leigh Pleasants