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“I said, ‘Look guys, we’re going to modify the curriculum for the day,’” said Tesmer. “It was one of those things where I wanted to see if we could do it.”
They did it. With help from his students, Tesmer fixed her car for a fraction of what she would’ve paid an auto body shop.
The incident is an example of the kind of real-world learning that students in his classes experience.
“It’s real good for hands-on learners,” Tesmer said. “Some people need to get out of their desk.”
He said the classes “add relevance to what the core classes are doing. You can’t fix a car without knowing math, and you also can’t do it without communication skills.”
But technical education has seen cuts in the last decade at Burnsville, Tesmer said. Several years ago there were four teachers in Tesmer’s department, but last year they were down to 1.7 positions. Next year, they will return to two positions.
Tesmer said he “hopes the pendulum is swinging in the other direction,” with schools realizing the classes’ value.
Meanwhile, Hernandez and Mischel are full of ideas on how to improve cars. Both would like to see them made more accessible, so it’s easier to make repairs.
Hernandez said he’d like to design modular headlights, so owners can take them apart and fix what’s wrong without having to buy a whole new headlight.
This summer they’ll be busy earning money for college. They’ll also be working on their own cars — Mischel has a 1997 Chevrolet Camaro and Hernandez has a 2001 Pontiac Vibe — and fixing the cars of family and friends.
Hernandez said he expects tinkering with cars to be a lifelong interest.
“It’s something that I’ll always love.”
Erin Adler • 952-746-3283