North Branford Patch: How did you become interested in teaching?
Gerald Carlone: I studied graphic design. I worked as a software engineer for about three years and decided to get my teacher's certificate. I always wanted to get into teaching. I come from a family of teachers.
North Branford Patch: Can you describe the new at ?
Carlone: The auto program is brand new this year. We're going to be in the back of the auditorium where the scene shop used to be. It's going to be a two-lift garage with welding, tire balancing and tire changing capabilities. It's a course that's going to be a lot of engine theory, very basic car maintenance and small engine work.
North Branford Patch: Have close to completion is the garage?
Carlone: The shop is not 100 percent ready. We've been doing what we can in the classroom to get the students' baseline knowledge up to par so when the shop is ready we can hit the ground running. We're going to do the basic maintenance–like oil changing, tire rotation, break inspection and diagnostics.
North Branford Patch: How have the students received the program?
Carlone: North Branford has a large population of students who ride recreational vehicles like quads or dirt bikes. There's a large population who are interested in tinkering with cars and recreational vehicles and engines. My class has a good mix of students who don't know the first thing about cars to students who have already worked on their own cars.
North Branford Patch: Right now the program consists of an introduction to automotive course. What are some possibilities for the future?
Carlone: The future is wide open for an advanced course. There are some thoughts that we might make the advanced course a hovercraft course where students build a hovercraft and then they race them up in Hartford. Last year, eight schools from all over Connecticut competed in the competition. Another thought would be to have an advanced automotive class be more diagnostics and advanced car maintenance, like transmission work, radiators, water pumps–things like that. The student interest is there so it can only grow.
North Branford Patch: Can you describe a typical automotive class?
Carlone: A typical class has been anything but typical lately. Some days we'll be in a classroom setting going over an oil change, and then the next class we'll look at an actual engine and locate the engine components that you need in order to complete an oil change. There hasn't been a standard day yet. Once the shop is ready, it'll be a much more standardized class.
North Branford Patch: Does this class have value to students beyond those who are especially interested in cars?
Carlone: Absolutely. This is an introduction to automotive. Almost everyone has to drive a car. You have to know what's going on with your car while you're driving it. We're going over basic things like when you pull over because you have a flat tire, you have to make sure you are in a safe location. These are things that new drivers don't realize or think about. The course will get students more familiar with what's under the hood or going to talk to a mechanic when they have a problem. It really has a lot of value for anyone who plans on getting their license and driving.
North Branford Patch: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Carlone: I really enjoy working with the kids. I like that it's different every day. It's nice that when you're working with a student for a given time and you start to see them pick things up on their own.
North Branford Patch: What are your goals for the automotive program?
Carlone: I'd like us to be doing oil changes for the public. I'd like to see us be diagnosing teachers' cars or doing minor work on teachers' cars.