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Automotive shop at Concord High turns into ‘All Girls Garage’ after school

  • Abigail McIntosh helps ninth-grader Yvette Kagirimpundu change a spare tire during a hands-on portion of the All Girls Garage after-school program at Concord Regional Technical Center in Concord last week. Elizabeth Frantz photos / Monitor staff

  • Abigail McIntosh talks about tread depth and uneven wear on tires during the All Girls Garage after school program at Concord Regional Technical Center in Concord on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Abigail McIntosh (center) helps 11th-graders Sana Khan (left) and Ennosen Yen look for tire pressure information in the driver’s side doorjamb during the All Girls Garage.

  • Abigail McIntosh goes through the steps involved in changing a tire on the side of a road during the All Girls Garage after school program at Concord Regional Technical Center in Concord on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • All Girls Garage students learn to change a tire during the after-school program at Concord Regional Technical Center in Concord last week. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Each Wednesday afternoon a group of young women have been taking over the automotive garage at Concord Regional Technical Center. They rotate tires, change oil and figure out why that pesky “check engine” light is on.

During the day, the automotive shop is filled with almost all boys, but after school it becomes the “All Girls Garage.”

After successfully changing a tire – twice – 11th-grader Sana Khan talked about how the new program has allowed her to explore something she wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

“It’s a golden opportunity,” she said.

Her partner for the day, Ennosen Yen, agreed. Yen had previously considered a class in the automotive program but was intimidated by male classmates who seemed to already know all the basics before they were introduced by an instructor. All Girls Garage gives her a chance to honestly explore the subject.

“You don’t have to like it,” Yen said. “Just come here and try it out. Be yourself. You’re not judged. You’re not being intimidated by people who are judging you because they already know stuff and you don’t.”

CRTC automotive instructor Scott Mayotte came up with the idea for All Girls Garage and recruited Abigail McIntosh, 19, of Chichester to be the instructor.

“I didn’t feel it would be right to have an All Girls Garage with a male instructor,” Mayotte said.

McIntosh was a 2016 graduate of the CRTC automotive program while attending Pembroke Academy. She’s currently an apprentice technician at Banks Chevrolet in Concord and senior at the Lakes Region Community College Automotive Service Education Program.

McIntosh didn’t need much convincing. “I was like, ‘Absolutely! Anything I can I do. When can we start? Right away. Let’s go,’ ” she said. “It was absolutely something I wanted to be a part of.”

Officially an after-school program, McIntosh approaches it like her “class,” and was nervous about her lack of teaching experience. Those worries melted away halfway through the first day when McIntosh asked the students if they were ready to go into the shop for some hands-on experience.

“Just the smiles on their faces. They were so excited,” she said. “I’m so much more excited because they’re so excited.”

Cars have always been a part of McIntosh’s life growing up. She would visit her father as he worked at a Toyota parts shop and go on wrecker calls with him. Her grandfather also owned a garage.

“Once I had my own car, I started learning more about my own maintenance, and that’s when I decided to do the automotive technology program,” she said. From there, McIntosh started looking at post-secondary opportunities out of state, but recommendations pushed her to consider Lakes Region’s General Motors Automotive Service Education Program. It was an instant fit for McIntosh.

“It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, because I’m not going broke at some college out of state and I love what I’m doing,” McIntosh said. “I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do All Girls Garage if I was gone, as well.”

Some of the basics she’s taught so far include checking fluids and tire pressure, changing oil and flat tires, and reading check engine lights. The students have learned about brakes, pads and rotors. Finally, the class will review a checklist for buying used vehicles and take a field trip to Banks Chevrolet in Concord.

The All Girls Garage program runs a total of six weeks and will be offered multiple times during the school year through grant funding from the 21C After School Program. Many people have asked McIntosh if there is a version of the program for adult women, but she hasn’t heard of one. For now, she said she hopes it creates interest in the CRTC Automotive program, which is typically made up of male students, and spreads to other vocational programs around the state. She’s the only woman in her Lakes Region class, but hopes that will change in the future.

“I’m hoping that someday you walk into a shop and it will be 50-50,” she said, “but it’s going to take some time.”