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Computers, Cars & COVID-19: Back to School with a Sebastian Teacher of the Year

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Garrett Roux

Both the pandemic and the new school year are well underway now, and so last week we spoke with Garrett Roux to see how it’s going. He’s the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year for Sebastian River High School.

GR: The kids are excited to be back. Most teachers are excited to be back. For me it’s almost business as usual the only difference that I have is this piece of fashion.

He points at his mask.

GR: So, I’m Garrett Roux. I’m the automotive instructor at Sebastian River High School. Been teaching for 9 years.

He also graduated from the school in 2006.

GR: Yea, I was born and raised in Sebastian, Florida. Actually, cool fact, I am teaching the program that I went through, so …

Through his class, students can become automotive industry certified and ready to work a good-paying job straight out of high school.

GR: There’s a lot of good money to be made in automotive especially if you have the certification.

You can imagine it also takes good money to buy the training equipment needed to properly teach students.

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Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan
Garrett Roux

GR: So, our issue was teaching students CAN-Bus. And what CAN-Bus means is, really, in layman’s terms: how the computer or different computers in the car talk to one another. All vehicles have this from 1996 and beyond, so.

He tracked down what he needed. It costs thousands of dollars, so Roux applied and received a nearly 10,000 High Impact grant from the Education Foundation of Indian River County. He’s received two now, actually.

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Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan
Some of Roux's students work on the CAN-Bus at Sebastian River High School

GR: It allows me to put faults in there so that they can then diagnose it, use the multi-meter, and just gain those real world skills that they can apply into really multiple fields – automotive, motorcycles, working on tractors, all of them have CAN-Bus components.

The Education Foundation provides grants to teachers and schools in Indian River, and the High Impact grants fund innovative school or classroom solutions that advance student achievement. Roux’s program is definitely making a high impact.

GR: Yea, absolutely! My students last year. My seniors had I believe it was 52 certifications between 20 students. And I actually placed 5 students into industry at local dealerships.

A couple of weeks ago, they dropped in on his class.

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Credit Tania Ortega-Cowan
Doug Herron

DH: I’m Doug Herron, I’m the executive director here at the Education Foundation of Indian River County. He didn’t really know we were coming but the equipment was very clean. He’s taking care of it and the students are taking care of it which shows that he’s built pride in the program and pride with the students.

Herron took over leadership of the Education Foundation right around when the pandemic began. He’s originally from Hardee County, Florida.

DH: So, I worked there for 27 years in the school district. I was a middle school teacher, and eventually a principal. 

He and his wife moved to the Treasure Coast. He was ready for a professional change too.

DH: And then this position came up. I’m working with teachers and helping students. And so, yea. With the craziness of the times, I don’t know how many times I’ve told my wife,  I’m glad I am doing the nonprofit now and not sitting in the principal’s chair or another decision making chair because I can only imagine how tough it is.

Just as he started the job, schools shut down due to COVID. One of his first actions in the job was to be sure all students in the Indian River County School District had laptops.

DH: They had enough devices on hand already to cover all of the students

So instead the Foundation donated $60,000 in a reserve fund for replacement laptops.

Learn more here: https://www.edfoundationirc.org/