By SMSD Communications
David “Red” Garner could be retired right now, but the 78-year-old Stafford Municipal School District automotive instructor loves introducing students to opportunities in the automotive industry.
“I’ve always thought about giving back and helping, because a lot of people helped me achieve my goals,” said Garner, the Stafford College & Career Center’s automotive instructor.
A Tuscaloosa, Ala., native, Garner was a teenager when he went to work in an independent garage. One of the technicians introduced him to transmissions and he took a deep interest in that aspect of the automotive industry.
Garner enjoyed a fulfilling career in the field from the 1950s through 2001. He always learned the newest technology and adapted quickly to it.
His experience included working as the service manager for A.J. Foyt Chevrolet in Houston – then the largest Chevrolet dealership in the United States. He was also the part owner of a service center/body shop and built racecars.
During his time with General Motors, Garner worked with Stafford MSD to create opportunities for students interested in the automotive industry. Little did he know that would lead to working for the school district years later. He began as an aide, and eventually became the automotive instructor when Stafford MSD built its state-of-the-art Stafford College & Career Center.
Teaching was not a big transition for Garner, who spent years training technicians when he worked at dealerships. Students in the Stafford College & Career Center program learn automotive principles before they work on one of a half-dozen cars in the automotive lab.
Once they learn the basics in the lab, they have the opportunity to get paid experience at local dealerships. Automotive students work for a variety of local dealerships, including Group 1 Automotive, which has 19 dealerships in the Houston area.
Garner said he would like to see the program continue to create opportunities for students, and hopes his eventual successor will work to maintain the success.
“We worked so hard to get this program right – we want to make sure it’s in good hands,” Garner said.
Garner served in the Alabama National Guard and the Texas National Guard for nearly 20 years.
He and his wife, Phyllis, have been married for 56 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.