One might consider a local high school’s automotive program top of the line after earning one national accreditation and three national certifications – all in a month’s time.

The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) awarded national accreditation to the Fayette County High School automotive technology program for meeting the standards developed by the automotive industry.

In addition, ASE considers Fayette’s lead automotive instructor Stephen Feilke “the best of the best” after earning the Master Technician certification – the highest level of achievement recognized by NATEF. Feilke also earned a teaching certification in auto maintenance and light repair.

Participants earn the Master Technician status by passing a specified group of tests in a series which includes engine repair, automatic transmission, brakes, heating and air, etc.

This isn’t the first time Feilke has earned this certification as he has been taking the ASE certification test since 1978 after being inspired for his former boss, “I worked for Gulf Station and my boss took me with him when he took his first test; I’ve been taking the ASE test since then,” Feilke says.

Recipients must retake the ASE test every five years to remain certified.

Forty years later, Feilke is now able to inspire his students in the same way his boss once inspired him. James Bishop is one of those students and recently earned the ASE student certification.

Bishop successfully passed the following ASE student certifications: suspension and steering, brakes, electrical and electronic systems, engine performance and repair, automatic transmission and transaxle, manual drive train and axels, heating and air conditioning, maintenance and light repair, and automobile service technology.

The NATEF  and ASE accreditation process is designed to evaluate a school’s automotive service program including its structure, processes, resources, materials, and mission. There are over 65 standards required by NATEF for industry certification. It also aims to increase awareness of career opportunities for students in automotive programs.

During the process, each school is evaluated by a collaborative team of automotive business personnel; this year’s evaluation team consisted of representatives from National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA), Allan Vigil Ford of Fayetteville, Fayette County Public Schools bus technicians, Transportation Education Foundation of Georgia (TEFG), and a team leader from NATEF.

The evaluation team said that Fayette County High’s automotive technology program exceeded the standards of the accreditation program stating, “This is the first time a program has been completed in such a short time. We have never seen such written details that cover each standard nor have we seen such a high-level of dedication given to prepare for the on-site evaluation.”

Fayette County High is the only high school in the county to have a nationally accredited automotive program.

Earning four national titles is something to celebrate, but Feilke sees more than the victory.

“I think that to lead and teach you have to set the example of what you expect. If you are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk,” he says.

Program instructor Stephen Feilke and student James Bishop proudly display their ASE certifications.