Students earn jobs through automotive class

Published 7:58 pm Sunday, January 28, 2018

The nuts and bolts of Steven Webb’s Maintenance Light Repair and Automotive Service pathway at Troup High School is giving students a boost into the workforce.

Dustin Downey and Dennis Royster, two students in Webb’s advanced automotive classes, just received noticed they are now part-time Express Technicians at Nissan of LaGrange.

As a part of the Troup County School System (TCSS) Work-Based Learning program, the students will attend school during the morning hours of the day and then work in the afternoons. The pair says the positions will provide real-world experience and they will earn money towards their college and future career goals.

To fulfill the duties of an Express Technician, Downey and Royster will be rotating and balancing tires, changing cabin filters and windshield wiper fluid, checking tire gauge’s and brakes and changing the oil in cars that come through the service department.

“When I found out I got the job I was very excited. We already do those things here in class, but to do them at a jobsite will be exciting,” said Downey who is now a senior at Troup.

For both young men, that journey to career excitement started in their early years.

Royster, a junior, said he was unsure of the path he wanted his life to take when he started high school but now he sees a brighter future.

“My freshman year, I took the basic automotive class. I didn’t know very much but I learned so much in one year. Once I learned the basics, I found I had a passion for it and I stuck with it,” Royster said.

Downey said the love of working on cars started at home with his father.

“My dad is a diesel mechanic and when I was in the third grade I became interested in helping him — that’s when it struck me that I liked to work on cars,” Downey said. “My ninth-grade year I took the basic class, but after that it became very hands-on and I learned so much.”

Both Downey and Royster said Webb was an instrumental person in both helping them learn the concepts of mechanics and helping them earn a position at the Nissan dealership.

“Mr. Webb opened the door for me to learn more about servicing automobiles and learn more about myself. I probably wouldn’t be sitting in this position if it wasn’t for him teaching me everything I know,” said Royster. “He made the community connections for us to be successful and have a job.”

For the long-time Troup County students, they say it’s more than just about the job — it’s about the family culture Webb has built with each of his students.

Royster continued, “I honestly didn’t know where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. The Automotive Service class is a great environment and I feel like I am a part of a family.”

Downey echoed that sentiment by sharing that Webb is like a second father-figure to him because he has taught him a lot.

When Downey graduates in four months, he looks to continue his automotive studies at West Georgia Technical College and follow in the footsteps of his father by receiving his degree in Diesel Mechanics. Royster has another year to consider his path, but whatever it is, he knows it will be centered on working with car or boat engines.

Wherever their future leads, they agree on one thing — they will miss having lunch in the family atmosphere of the automotive classroom. Royster believes it’s not only the students who make the environment so friendly, but also the teacher.

“Mr. Webb is not just a teacher,” Royester said. “He wants us to be successful. He is one of those people who sticks with you…if you want to learn, he is willing to teach you above and beyond what you think you can do. He cares about you outside of the classroom and makes sure you understand what you are doing.”

Troup County School System is an accredited educational system with over 11,900 students in grades K-12. TCSS does offer a free Pre-K program at each elementary school. The system is comprised of eleven elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, one college and career academy, and one alternative learning center. Students within the school system are taught a rigorous and relevant curriculum that helps them make college and career choices beyond graduation and succeed in life. The system 2017 graduation rate rose 6.6 percentage points in three years to 78.0 percent. To learn more about Troup County School System, visit and the Troup County School System Facebook page.