Start the Engine!

New auto-shop teacher takes the wheel

Yesenia Sandez, Features Editor

Yesenia Sandez
New auto-shop teacher Jose Leyva (right) shows senior Robert Bruno (left) something on his computer during their sixth-period class. Leyva started teaching at the beginning of the school year.

A few weeks into the 2019-2020 Bonita Vista High school year, new auto-shop teacher, Jose Leyva, took over after former teacher Ben Hazel retired at the end of the previous school year. 

This is Leyva’s first year teaching – both at a high school and at BVH.  Leyva got this position after a four-month-long application process for the open position. According to Leyva, it involved submitting resumes, testing, and receiving certificates to actually get hired. 

“I heard about this opening through my mother because she’s friends with someone who works in the district. And when they saw this position become available, they gave me a heads up and helped me with the application process; getting everything lined up to hopefully be selected, which I was,” Leyva said.

Since Leyva started a few weeks into the new school year, he had to research material from previous years to catch up, similar to a studying student. Leyva feels like he has learned a lot since when he began. In particular, he has learned how to use an engine block, which powers the vehicle.

“I had to get caught up [including] going through all of Hazel’s old files and CDs and videos and just figuring out where and what everything is exactly, and understanding how to use it. [It] has been a little rough, but definitely fun,” Leyva said.

Senior Robert Bruno has been in auto-shop since his freshman year. Bruno explains some of Leyva’s best qualities that he has noticed since being in his class. 

“[Leyva’s] kindness and the way he shows respect with other students [stands out]. He wants to see us enjoy the class and wants to keep everything fun,” Bruno said. “He’s also a very organized person, which is something that is key to being a teacher. Most importantly, we all like his enthusiasm.” 

He also developed experience with mechanics at his last job. Teaching auto-shop was not Leyva’s first choice, but he feels that he will have wild and funny moments at BVH. This job partially differs because he previously had to be wary of his surroundings because of the dangerous situations he could have faced.

“Before, I worked at the YMCA for five years – teaching, outdoor education and backcountry survival type of stuff. Then, I worked in a rehabilitation center in Utah doing backcountry expedition guiding and teaching people proper safety techniques,” Leyva said. “My mom was a teacher for about 18 years or so. Then, she was an administrator for a few years after that. I always grew up around schools and teaching and seeing all the craziness that goes on around it [and] I’ve always been into mechanics, so I kind of figured those two go hand-in-hand. Plus, at my last job, I helped new mechanics develop into higher-end and better-performing mechanics.”

According to Bruno, the students warmly welcomed Leyva on the first day with a kind atmosphere. Leyva walked into his first day with an attitude ready to prepare students for the rest of the school year. 

“The first day was fun, it wasn’t very nerve-racking [and] it was kind of nice. And the realization of, ‘Oh my god, I’m a teacher! Jesus,’ [was cool]” Leyva said.

It was the first day for Leyva when Bruno bonded with him over their common appreciation for motorcycles. Since then, Bruno feels like he has learned a lot from Leyva in regards to auto-shop and their common interests.

“The class teaches you more than just an engine. It basically teaches you more about what safety precautions should be taken when you’re working on cars,” Bruno said.

It is lessons like those mentioned by Bruno that Leyva has been teaching his classes, including auto-shop student and senior Tito Bourus. Bourus joined the class to gain knowledge useful for real-world application of auto-shop skills. As a first-year auto-shop student, Bourus recognizes the impact Leyva is having on the class.

He has definitely changed the environment by literally cleaning our whole auto-shop class with his friends and family over one weekend,” Bourus said.

Even though Leyva started a little later in the year, auto-shop students have been getting along with him well, according to Bourous. 

“Our new teacher is great! He really knows what he’s doing and seems very passionate about this topic.” Bourus said. “[Leyva] is a nice and chill teacher that we can relate to and have a fun time with [while also learning].”