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CTE maintains strong ties with local employers

A student applies auto body primer to a vehicle with a roller

A junior in the Auto Body Repair program at the HFM Career and Technical Center applies primer to a vehicle.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing safety measures in schools have certainly introduced many changes for teachers and students across the country. At the HFM Career and Technical Center, however, one thing that hasn’t changed is the connections and partnerships the center has with local businesses and employers.

Last year, for example, as all students across the state were learning remotely, the HFM Auto Body Repair program benefited from donations made by NAPA Auto Parts in Gloversville, and the program continues to benefit from donations from other businesses including Keystone Automotive in Albany and Brown’s Ford in Amsterdam and Johnstown.

As they were learning at home, HFM Auto Body Instructor John Ackermann worked with his students on a variety of online platforms including Kahoot!, a game-based learning program. In Kahoot!, students participated in a series of auto body-related challenges competing with one another for top scores. One thing that kept things interesting for the students was NAPA’s donation of prizes for the winners that ranged from tool sets to hats and t-shirts. Auto Body students also received discounts at the NAPA store.

“The prizes were a big help keeping students engaged,” Ackermann said. “Our suppliers have been very generous and play an active role in our students’ education.”

Keystone Automotive also made several donations including clothing and safety gear in addition to an annual donation of sheet metal and fenders.

From Brown’s Ford, students also received several at-home learning kits that included fenders and professional-grade auto body filler/hardener, spreaders and sandpaper. Students were able to use the kits at home in basements, garages or outdoors to sharpen their skills fixing dents.

Beyond material goods, local employers also provide students with an even greater benefit – good paying jobs and career opportunities.

Ackermann says every year local body shops hire many of his students, and some even get jobs while they are still in high school working evenings or weekends.

“Our local employers have a vested interest in career and technical education and their support is critical to workforce development,” HFM Career and Technical Center Principal Michael DiMezza said. “We can’t thank our local businesses enough for their support.”

Since the start of school in September, the HFM Career and Technical has been open for in-person instruction observing all COVID-19 safety protocols.

The HFM Career and Technical Center offers sixteen career and technical programs open to high school juniors and seniors in the HFM area. To learn more, visit