Forward-Thinking Program Creating Great Auto Body Techs of the Future – Autobody News


In the summer of 2019, Southeastern Community College (SCC) in West Burlington, IA, hired Dr. Ashlee Spannagel as its new dean of career and technical education (CTE) and workforce development.

Spannagel entered the job excited and ready to take on the world—and then the pandemic hit. It’s been a “work around” project ever since, but she hasn’t been dissuaded one iota, taking the position and making it her own as the school’s collision repair department benefits in many ways.


Spannagel came to SCC after working in education for nine years. One of the first things she did was to build relationships with established area educators, industry leaders and workforce and economic development partners to continue building opportunities for students. This included local body shops, car dealerships, vendors and companies that manufacture collision repair-related products, tools and equipment.


Spannagel stays busy as she oversees the school’s entire CTE division and works closely with faculty and area employers to ensure SCC provides top-notch, industry-level education to its students. Her role within SCC’s auto and collision repair programs is only one small part of everything she does at this forward-thinking institution.


While other CTE programs in the country have stepped back during the pandemic, you have stepped up in many ways for your collision repair department. Can you tell us about that?


We receive an annual allocation of funding that is called ACE (Accelerated Career Education) funding. The whole purpose of that money is to reinvest in infrastructure, so that we can provide more classes and accommodate more students. One of the things that we chose to do with the money was to remodel our auto collision facilities, and it has worked out very well. We are confident that this will lead to more enrollment down the road, which is obviously the goal. It shows that we are open and committed to collision repair and ready to pivot if needed.


It’s a huge job and a big school, so how are you able to do it all?


Yes, I am responsible for 47 certificate, diploma and degree programs, and collision is just one them. I’ve been involved in…


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