South Bryant Campus Auto Service Teacher Bryan Mapes teaches students in his program the value of hard work, because he started working for what he wanted at just 7-years-old. Raised by a single mother, Bryan was in elementary school the first time he worked on a car with his neighbor.
“He was always working on cars, and one day he let me help him put an engine in a 1972 Ford Gran Torino. I fetched tools for him, and went home covered head-to-toe in grease,” he laughed. But that day, he saw “the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Working on cars with the neighbor became his favorite pastime. He quickly learned fractions fetching tools, and studied the neighbor’s Chilton auto manuals during down time. Soon, there wasn’t a question about cars the neighbor asked that Bryan couldn’t answer.
He later attended Bishop McGuiness High School at his mother’s insistence, but since they couldn’t afford private school, he participated in the work study program to earn his tuition. He played percussion and bass guitar in the band, being named Most Outstanding Band Leader. Unlike most of his classmates, he didn’t go to college after graduation.
“My mom developed MS, which disabled her, and I took a job in a grocery store to support her. I joined the Army, but couldn’t get an assignment near her so I took a discharge,” he explained. “I went back to work at the grocery store and moved up to management.”
Then a friend offered to align Bryan’s car through his CareerTech program at Metro Tech, and Bryan realized he could get paid to do something he loved. Rosalind Martin in Financial Aid helped him get the GI Bill paperwork submitted, and he enrolled in the Auto Program at Metro Tech. After graduation, he worked for a few car dealerships as a mechanic, until an automotive teaching position came open at Metro Tech in 2008. He applied, got a job offer, took a pay cut and went into the classroom again.
“My favorite part of teaching is that “aha” moment when I know a student is learning. I can teach all day, but when their face lights up after they try something and succeed, that’s when the learning process really starts. That makes it all worth it,” he said.
Bryan’s neighbor died in 2002, after being a father figure and mentor to him most of his life, and he credits his passion for cars to him.
Bryan’s program at SBC teaches electrical and engine performance and he works alongside Brandon Smith, who teaches steering suspension and brakes.The Auto Service Program offers live work for areas they are currently studying, and charges a $10 shop fee + 10% markup on parts needed. Right now, they are taking repairs for electrical issues including bulbs, power windows, etc.
For more information call (405) 595-2237.