Big Shout Out to our CTE Automotive teacher, Mr. Michael Lopez, who has just earned the distinction of Independence High School Teacher of the Year 2021-2022!!!
Per the school, “Mr. Lopez has single-handedly revitalized the automotive technology program at the B][G, while also doing the job of two automotive teachers this school year. Mr. Lopez goes above and beyond to support students and teachers EVERY day, all while maintaining a positive and joyful attitude towards his work and our school community. We are beyond grateful that he is a member of our staff.”
Mr. Lopez joined our CTE family as an automotive teacher in 2018. He was well suited for the job. Lopez started working at a neighborhood import shop when he was 12. While attending high school in Colorado Springs, CO, he enrolled in an auto program similar to what he teaches today. Upon graduation, he worked in the industry for 30 years gaining experience with different shops and specialty centers. At one time, he owned and operated a Saab and Subaru shop.
He taught Automotive Service at Career Tech Centers for six years, first in Oklahoma and then Boone, NC. He then joined our CTE family at Independence High.
Mr. Lopez was kind enough to provide the following answers to some interview questions:
What made you decide you wanted to teach?
“I wanted to be a math teacher or an auto shop teacher my sophomore year in high school. I had two teachers (Mrs. Schenk and Mr. Lindbloom) that really made an impact in my life. Both teachers really pushed me to be a better student and want more for myself than even I wanted for myself. Mrs. Schenk used to grab me by my ear (in a nice way) and escort me to my class if she saw me socializing in the halls.
Describe an “aha” moment since you started teaching.
“Every time I visit a former student at their place of work and see them putting into practice what they learned here at Indy. Every time a student stops by for a visit and shares their knowledge and experiences with my students/classes.”
What are you most proud of with regards to your time at Independence?
1) Attending/working the graduations and seeing these students graduate. While backstage, getting to talk to them outside of the classroom.
2) The building of the auto program here at Indy and earning the required national accreditation in 3 years. (Thank you to all my fellow Indy faculty and staff for all the support and encouragement during this process)
3) Earning the recognition or designation of Teacher of the Year here at Indy.
4. When a student shares the automotive experiences that had over the weekend or the night before when working on their vehicle.”
Have any of your students moved on to jobs in the auto repair industry?
“I have a student standing in front of me as I type out these answers to your questions that is working at Woodies Automotive. I have other students that work for Take 5 Oil Change Center. I have a former student that owns and operates his own Auto detailing business.”
Thank you, Mr. Lopez, for your dedication to your students, industry, and school. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. We are fortunate to have you!