Bloomingdale High School’s automobile technology program is just one of several magnet programs offered by Hillsborough County Public Schools.

In Rick Fortney’s class at Bloomingdale High School, students don’t sit in neat rows of desks, learning mathematical theorems, proper grammar or historical facts. Instead, they receive hands-on exposure to an automobile technology program that prepares students for entry-level employment under accepted industry standards.

Fortney, a certified master technician, teaches students about the mechanics of the automobile and its components, shop safety and the proper use of tools and vehicle lifts as part of an automotive services program, an offering under the Career and Technical Education umbrella of Hillsborough County Public Schools.

“Students learn to mount and balance tires, perform tune-ups and replace brakes, clutches and other parts,” he said. “They can also earn certifications by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).”

Last year, students earned 105 certifications, which translates to real-world employment marketability in today’s hot job market. Two former students work at the Volvo Car Factory in South Carolina. A former female student is a crew chief for El Loco Toro monster truck. Her brother is a BMW technician in Miami. Spencer Clements, currently a senior, works part-time at Morgan Auto Group’s Honda dealership.

“I’ve had more than 50 employers reach out to me to offer employment opportunities to students in my program,” said Fortney. “There is a strong demand for automotive technicians.”

Bloomingdale’s automobile technology program is just one of a number of elementary, middle and high school programs offered to allow students opportunities to discover, explore and refine their talents and interests while focusing on excellence in academics. Programs include a particular theme or focus, such as mathematics, science, technology, communications, international affairs, business or performing arts. Collegiate academies help students earn a high school diploma and a college degree upon graduation. Medical science programs prepare students for medical careers.

“It’s crucial to offer our learners a multitude of dynamic programs that will prepare them for fulfilling careers,” said Superintendent Addison Davis. “The district’s robust magnet and choice program options exemplify our dedication to finding every child’s passion and inspiration in the classroom.”

Parents and legal guardians may choose from a list of choice/magnet schools with space available during the open application window from October 29 through Saturday, December 11.

For more information about choice/magnet schools, visit or call the Student Placement Information Line at 272-4692.

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.