Alfred E. Smith High School Opens Cutting Edge Auto Shop

Ever need a hand with a car emergency? Well, if you live in the South Bronx, you’re in luck. There are 498 pairs of hands that can help you do everything from wheel alignment to engine repair using state-of-the-art equipment at Alfred E. Smith CTE High School’s brand new auto shop.

Earlier this spring, the school’s auto body department celebrated the opening of its new top-of-the-line auto body shop with a ribbon cutting ceremony and BBQ hosted by DJs from Hot 97.

With music blaring and burgers on the grill, dozens of students, alums, community members, parents and supporters meandered through the auto garage taking a look under the hoods of a dozen or so cars on display, some of which were donated by local auto dealers and others which students had worked on throughout the course of the year.

“Today’s shop opening is a special day for us at Alfred E. Smith,” said Principal Evan Schwartz after the ribbon cutting. “This state-of-the-art shop puts us ahead of all the facilities that any automotive school is offering, represents our commitment to automotive and career and technical education and also represents that Alfred E Smith is back and getting stronger every day.”

Smith was set to close in 2010, but because of overwhelming community feedback, specifically around keeping the Bronx’s only automotive CTE program open, the city’s Education Department decided to keep the school’s auto program open. Smith is now co-located with Bronx Haven, a transfer high school and Bronx Design and Construction Academy, a school with CTE programs including home construction, carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

The new multimillion-dollar shop, was funded by capital funds and is outfitted with a new wheel alignment system by Hunter, a wheel balancing machine by Road Force and a cutting-edge tire changer.

Assistant Principal and Smith alumnus, Mr. Rafael Guzman, knows personally the benefits of the auto program. “When I was here, many years ago, we had a lot of antiquated equipment,” he said. “Today, our kids have access to equipment that some of the dealerships and our industry partners do not even have. The training they will receive here at Smith will allow them to be up to par with the industry and will help them transition easily from school to the work place.”

And Smith has already been doing so for students like Tyler Hunter, a senior in the auto program who earned an internship last year with Toyota, one of the school’s partners, and now has a full-time job offer as a technician with full tuition reimbursement for auto school, after he graduates.

“I’ve always loved working on cars, but coming to Smith has really enhanced my love for them. Now my future goals for working in the industry are a reality and I’m thankful.”

Connections like these are made possible by the school’s partnerships with organizations like the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, Automotive Youth Educational Systems, SkillsUSA, and dealerships including BMW of Manhattan, Lexus of Manhattan, Chrysler/ Jeep and Lincoln/Ford where many graduates have begun their careers in the auto industry.


A true reflection of the industry, Smith’s auto program is dominated by males, with only 36 girls in the program, but 12th grader Jameliah Hernandez is not fazed by the lack of female students. “Being in a field dominated by guys is challenging at times,” she said. “But it has toughened me up and I love what I do. It’s the best feeling to look at a car that’s not working and know that I can fix it. It makes me feel so accomplished, like I can do anything.” Jameliah currently works at Auto Zone and is the school’s service writer, overseeing the work that goes on in the shop, ordering parts and interfacing with customers.

“Our goal is simply that our students will have options after they graduate,” added Principal Schwartz. “They’ll graduate with a specific skill set that can provide them with a career right out of high school but they can also go to college. CTE programs like this are about work-based learning and expose students to careers at an early stage. That early exposure can and will translate to their success in the future. “

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