Queen City ACE Program Paying Off

NFT News May 03 2023

Brooklyn Booth and Kassidy Russell-Gamble are two young women from the Cincinnati area flourishing as technicians thanks to the partnership between the Great Oaks Career Campuses and New Ford Tech. Booth was the national runner-up for the 2021 TechForce Foundation Future Techs Rock Awards. Russell-Gamble just celebrated her third anniversary at Woody Sander Ford and is well on her way to becoming a master technician.

For more than 50 years, high school students in Cincinnati have had access to Great Oaks’ vocational offerings, which include an automotive service technician program at each of its four campuses. Over the last several years, the Ford Automotive Career Exploration (ACE) Program has benefited students like Booth and Russell-Gamble who wanted to kickstart their respective careers. The Ford ACE Program offers online classes that match what Ford dealership technicians take. The training augments classroom instruction.

NFT News May 03 2023 “I was introduced to the ACE Program at the Live Oaks career center in my junior year,” said Booth, who graduated in 2021. “It was an online portal that enabled training across various topics with everything that is going on in the industry. Normally ACE has a dealership partner with different schools and career centers to offer the training experience. It’s career discovery, hands-on learning and really interactive. Once you get that training it automatically qualifies you for job opportunities at Ford dealerships.”

“The automotive service technician program we offer at the Great Oaks campuses covers two academic years,“ said Charlie Overbee, the automotive instructor at the Live Oaks campus that Booth attended. “The students take classes in ground transportation maintenance, automotive braking, suspension and steering systems, electrical/electronic and engine performance. The Ford ACE Program builds upon these classes and it has helped many of my students get their careers started at Ford. As seniors, they can spend half days and even more in dealerships under the supervision of a master technician. I’m really proud of Brooklyn and all of the students I’ve had who are excited to fulfill the needs we have in the auto industry.”

Early in her senior year, Booth found a home at Kings Ford in northeast Cincinnati. She spent two and a half years there before recently moving to Selinsgrove Ford in central Pennsylvania.

“Brooklyn was a model apprentice technician: she was diligent, dedicated, a fast learner, and consistently offered an incredible work ethic,” said Joe Ring, Kings Ford Chief Operating Officer. “During her first 12 months here, she was one of our busiest technicians and serviced nearly 1,500 repair orders, resulting in the elite honor of being named our August 2021 Employee of the Month. Brooklyn's skill development was very impressive, and we hope that Great Oaks can continue to offer such talented apprentice technicians who are developing capabilities desperately needed in a vibrant industry that should offer excellent career stability for many decades to come.”

Like Booth, Russell-Gamble became familiar with the New Ford Tech training options as a junior at Scarlet Oaks. Andy Chrzanowski, a Ford Regional Placement Specialist, was on hand for “Ford Day.” He followed up with Russell-Gamble as she progressed through school and the virtual ACE Program.

“One of my objectives is to identify and develop young technicians, and the four campuses under the Great Oaks umbrella have been fantastic,” said Chrzanowski. “Ford’s goal is to bridge the gap between education and industry. We want the next class of techs to jumpstart their careers at Ford, which is where the online ACE Program is so beneficial. Our next step is placing young techs in situations where they can succeed.”

At the start of her senior year, Russell-Gamble began a co-op internship at Woody Sander Ford, which Chrzanowski coordinated. She took two classes in the morning and then spent the rest of the day in the shop. By her second semester, she could work full-time and has remained there ever since.

“It’s been a great fit for me,” said Russell-Gamble of Woody Sander Ford. “It’s a small, family-owned dealership. Everyone knows everybody. You get along great with everybody. There are no hard feelings ever throughout the shop. I really enjoy my job, especially the satisfaction of getting the job done, knowing that I’ve fixed something properly.”

Russell-Gamble and Chrzanowski reunited over Labor Day Weekend 2022 at a Ford Top Techs event in Indianapolis. Having recently completed her electrical block certification, Russell-Gamble was rewarded with a day at Indianapolis Raceway Park for the NHRA U.S. Nationals. She was chatting with fellow techs in the hospitality area beside the Bob Tasca III pit when she recognized Chrzanowski.

“The NHRA hospitality event last September was really a positive experience because we can’t always track how we’re doing with high school students like Kassidy,” said Chrzanowski. “It was great to connect with her and others to show us that the training initiatives we’re running are working and students are accomplishing great things as a result of them.”

To learn more about the ACE Program and other career opportunities New Ford Tech provides, visit NewFordTech.com.

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