SUCCESS STORY: John Caffro: Hands-On Learning

~ by Heather Jewel, Health Assistant Class of 2018 -- senior Journalism final article

LCCTC has graduated many students who came here and continued on to be successful in their career of choice. John Caffro, Class of 2002, is a great example of one of those students. 

Perhaps it was John’s grandfather John Cast, a mechanic for many years, who inspired him to begin his Automotive Technician Career.

“You know -- when I was young, I struggled in school, had poor grades, and barely passed. The teachers always wanted to put me classes to give me extra help. But my mom fought hard for me. She started sending me to Shirley Shaffer’s house after school for tutoring. After going there a few times, Miss Shaffer sat down with my mom and said, “What your son really needs is for people to understand that he is a hands-on learner.” 

His tutor's findings made a lot of sense:  John always liked deconstructing things like lawn mowers and tractors -- seeing how they worked, and putting them back together. So when John came to LCCTC, he felt like he had found a home. He states, “I could do what I loved in the auto technology program, and that set me up for life. It’s because of LCCTC that I am where I am today.” This was one of his first big lessons: No matter what obstacle may be in the way, never give up; try your hardest.

In 2002, John graduated from Auto Technology and has been working in the field ever since! During his high school career, he had many teachers who made an crucial impact in his trainin. Of course, there were his auto tech teachers, Mr. Goebel, Mrs. Houk -- who lovingly refers to him as "teddy bear," and Mr. Cubellis -- all taught him the ins and outs of Automotive Repair. They helped him get his first co-op job at Phil Fitts Ford. 

“John stepped up to the plate his first year he knew it was his place.” Mrs Houk, his teacher’s aide, expressed. “He was a natural.”

Mr. Goebel, his former shop teacher, stated, “There was no challenge that he couldn't handle.” Mr Goebel knew that students all learn differently, and John was one of those different learners. He helped teach John to to embrace it and go with it. 

His academic teachers were important too.  He also thanks Mrs. McVicker-Shaffer and Mrs. Heasley for their encouragement to help him get where he is today. “I always knew that my skills in shop would need to be renewed,” John reflects, “but I never realized that I’d learn so much from my academics that would apply to my field; in those traditional classrooms, I learned how to learn -- how to make the information in front of me make sense.”

“As you can see,” John reflects, “coming to this school was a wise decision for me; it was a great opportunity that helped me to get a jump-start on my career.”

When John started working his co-op job at Phil Fitts Ford at age 17, Kenny Carter, Donnie Micaletti, and Sam Reino took him under their wing and taught him a lot about the automotive business. They also gave him the courage to be all you can be. In doing so, John has made lifelong friends. 

He has recently been promoted as a Senior Master Ford Technician. For this job he had to get additional Ford training, but this was no big deal for him; “It’s all part of the job.” He feels that becoming a Senior Master Ford Technician was one of his biggest accomplishments of his life. 

Today, John also proudly serves on the Occupational Advisory Committee (OAC) for the Auto Technician shop. He serves as an adviser and helps keep the shop updated with the latest advancements in the field.

Here are some inspiring words from John: 

 There are three things I’ve always said: 

1.)  You have to love what you do to do the best at it. If you don't love it, you’ll never be the best. 

2.)  Always try to be the best and be yourself because no one else can be you. 

3.)  When you work hard good things will happen to you, and they may not happen overnight. But with hard work and a strong mind-set, it will happen.

I’ve been working at Phil Fitts now going on 18 years. After I graduated, I went to work full time completed a long list of Ford training though the computer and classroom. 

“I’m very proud of all I’ve accomplished. I earned it, and I’ll always had a love for the Ford Motor Company -- and for LCCTC.” 

We must admit, we’re proud of John, too!