Even in high school, Kolton Swenink knew he was a “hands on” person so he was a “regular” in career and technical education (CTE) classes. “I took every tech class I could: metals, woods, and auto,” says Kolton. And he enjoyed them. But says Kolton, “I always knew I wanted to go for auto.” His future might have hit a snag right there since Boscobel, like many small rural districts in Southwest Wisconsin, does not have an auto technology program. But the region has developed a solution that works for them and students like Kolton.
The CESA 3 Auto Tech Academy is a partnership brought together to address the need for auto technicians in the region. The Academy includes representatives from the Wisconsin Auto and Truck Dealers Association, area dealerships, the region’s technical school, CESA 3, and local districts, all of whom worked to develop a way for kids to build auto tech skills at the service dealerships nearest their homes.
With this as an option, Kolton was able to enroll in the CESA 3 Auto Tech Academy at the Fillback Dealership in his hometown. He and his mom worked with his school counselor at Boscobel High School, Rhonda Scallon, to get into the Youth Apprenticeship program his junior year. He took a dual enrollment introductory auto class through Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) while learning skills in a live working laboratory at the dealership. As a result, Kolton earned three college credits through SWTC and high school credit at the same time. Kolton’s instructor, a Fillback ASE-certified master technician, was also certified to teach in the technical college system.