David Boller, Carrigan Career Center, Wichita Falls, Texas
Often times, people develop a passion for their career from an interest or hobby they had at a younger age. David Boller from the Carrigan Career Center did just that. Over 20 years ago as a student at the career center, Boller chose to take collision repair to learn how to work on a classic car he inherited. Through that initial curiosity, he has become a well-respected teacher producing skilled students with the necessary knowledge to gain a job right after graduation or to pursue further education at a post-secondary technical program.
After Boller graduated from the Carrigan Career Center, he had an interest in a manufacturing engineering degree but he didn’t have the passion like he had for the automotive industry. “I wanted to do it all; not just the problem solving but the hands-on work as well. I realized what exactly I wanted to do – that I liked what I did in the shop better,” he explained. With the support of his former Carrigan instructor, Jerry Allen, he opened his own automotive shop which allowed him to expand his skill set. Having enjoyed working with and teaching his peers as a student, Boller realized the impact he could have on the success of young adults and knew that teaching career and technical education was exactly what he wanted to do. In order to be an educator in the future, he shares that “[I] wanted to be good at everything and learn as much as I could about a broad range of tasks.”
A flexible working schedule freed Boller’s time to volunteer and work with students at Carrigan. “A lot of times these programs are underfunded,” Boller continued, “I wanted to be able to share my time and knowledge which let me get my foot in the door with the school district.” Boller began substituting for Carrigan Career Center while earning his teaching certifications and qualifications.
Boller was invited to step into his dream job when his mentor decided to retire after 40 years of educating students. Although Boller had big shoes to fill, he knew he could continue providing the same guidance to grow students into productive members of society.
His students learn every aspect of basic collision repair as well as knowledge of running a business, qualifying them to work at entry-level positions in automotive shops or enter post-secondary technical programs. The Carrigan Auto Collision Repair and Refinishing Shop acts as a simulation of a working auto body shop open to the community to give his students real world interactions with customers. Because Boller believes in giving back, the auto repair shop only charges the general public for parts and materials. The students donate their time for the repairs in order to gain valuable experience in customer service.
Not only are his students working in their community, they also have a chance to get involved with SkillsUSA. His students are involved in the competitions each year and last year received 1st place at Texas SkillsUSA for Collision Estimation and 2nd place in Collision Repair. Boller continued on to explain that his student who placed second graduated to pursue a successful career in welding.
“We have twice as many jobs than we can take in or have the time for especially on older cars,” Boller said. His students gain soft skills necessary for running a business by taking each customer’s contact information to set up appointments and follow ups. He strives to give his students some ownership of their education with freedom to pursue their interests. “I do my best to pair up projects with the students based on what they want to do in the future…I look for projects that can complement that,” he explained. He lets his students acquire the skill sets they are interested in; letting them have choices in furthering their educations.
One of these choices is pursuing credentials and certifications. Boller recognizes additional credential opportunities help students show their abilities on paper. He requires that his students possess at least one credential which counts as a test grade for his class. Boller advocated for safety training within his program, convincing his district that safety is a life skill that will follow his students into their future careers. Boller has been implementing OSHA training in his classroom because he believes that safety is the first and most important piece of education for his students. He wants his students to be prepared in his shop, but also for their first paying jobs. “Injured workers find new professions and you are left with jobs to complete and no employees to do them…Students have to be taught to be safe; most of the time they do not know any better,” Boller explained, “Maintaining an environment of safety comes first over productivity. If you cannot do it safely, it is not worth doing.” In addition to the OSHA 10-Hour safety training opportunities, his students also have access to the I-CAR program consisting of more than 100 certifications.
After 10 years of teaching, Boller says that his biggest accomplishment is continuing the success of the auto collision repair program and celebrates the fact that almost every shop in their town of over 100,000 has employees who had their beginnings at Carrigan. The success of his students is all the recognition Boller needs and he feels privileged to help guide them in the right direction. Regardless of the profession Boller’s students enter; he knows that he is providing them with a foundation of skills that translate into any profession — and a lifetime hobby in automotive restoration.