Jon Tabor (also known as J.J.) now stands at the front of the class, helping with the teaching of high school juniors and seniors in all aspects of automotive technology and repair! It wasn’t long ago that the Class of 2013 graduate of Oxbow High School and River Bend’s Auto Tech program was sitting in those very same seats in the very same automotive technology classroom. As Jon begins to explain how he “arrived here from there”, a person begins to see a pattern of a life-long curiosity to learn, an ability to work hard, and an understanding of where Jon is going in this life that is remarkable.
Looking back, Jon reflects that, from as far back as he can remember, he was always tearing things apart and then figuring out how they went back together; always learning something from each experience. In school, Jon took challenging academic classes, but found that he never enjoyed them as much as he did working with his hands to solve problems. Undecided as to what he might really enjoy when it was time to select a program at River Bend Career and Technical Center, he chose Building Trades. Spending his junior year in that program, he picked up skills that he still uses today, as he and his wife are busy restoring their own 1830’s house. At the time, he was running his own small business while in high school where he did things such as lawn maintenance, some basic mechanical repairs and some light carpentry work. Through this small business, he met a person who would become a real mentor to his future. This person, Bill Baylis, had owned a successful auto repair business out-of-state. Mr. Baylis had retired, sold his business and moved to our area and met Jon. Mr. Baylis also assisted in the Auto program at River Bend for a while, and through his encouragement, Jon switched his program to Automotive Technology. In making the change, Jon tested in as a starting “level 2” student with the skills he already had, and graduated from that program as that year’s recipient of the Automotive Achievement Award!
Continuing his education, Jon went from River Bend to complete an Associate’s Degree in Specialized Technologies at Wyoming Tech in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. He majored in two areas at Wyoming Tech: Automotive Technology and Small Business Management.
His skills continued to grow and he became a valued member of Bradford Sales and Services, in Bradford, Vermont, as an automotive mechanic. The next stop was working as a recreational vehicle mechanic at ABSOLUTE POWERSPORTS VT . After Absolute Powersports Vt closed, Jon went to work at Blackmount Equipment in North Haverhill, New Hampshire. During his two and a half years with Blackmount, he had the opportunity to work with River Bend Cooperative Education students who were placed at Blackmount for additional experience. Helping others learn skills and techniques he already knew was something that he found he had never thought about before, but really enjoyed. This experience sparked his interest to stop in at River Bend to find out more about how to become an educator in a Vermont Career and Technical Center. With the help and information from River Bend, and a need in their own Automotive Technology Program, Jon has started the long road to become a Vermont Certified Career and Technology Educator.
Jon’s present role is to assist the lead teacher, Carl Hildebrandt, in the Automotive Technology Program at River Bend. In addition, Jon attends classes sponsored by Vermont Technical College that teach about “teaching”. He attends classes on the weekend every five weeks and will be spending a portion of each summer taking additional courses to complete his certification. This process will take Jon about four to five years to complete, but he feels his time will be well worth it for the teaching credential. Next steps at River Bend include assisting in not only the Auto Technology program, but also Construction Technology, Heavy Equipment, and Diversified Agriculture. When he was asked a question about what he has found as the biggest surprise in his switch to education, he thought for a few moments. His response was actually regarding two surprises: first, he is amazed at how much daily work is involved in teaching and being ready for students every day; and secondly, he has been surprised at how rewarding it is to see a student understand a concept, figure a solution to a problem, or learn by doing something Jon has shown them how to do. Congratulations, Jon Tabor!