Half a Century of Inspiring Kids: Two Auto Shop Teachers, FCPS Grads, and Lifelong Friends Recount Decades of Making a Difference

Half a Century of Inspiring Kids: Two Auto Shop Teachers, FCPS Grads, and Lifelong Friends Recount Decades of Making a Difference

Veteran auto technologies instructors and ideal buddies Dominic Prakash and David Plum have additional than 50 years blended instructing practical experience in Fairfax County General public Colleges.

The Lake Braddock Secondary Faculty automotive instructors, in actuality, 1st fulfilled in an FCPS car class them selves again when they were college students at South Lakes High University in the 1980s.

“He was loud and obnoxious, and I was quiet and nervous,” Prakash states of his very first reminiscences of Plum.

The two buddies wound up tailing every single other from job to job as they grew up, heading from both of those “washing dishes at Fritzbe’s” burger restaurant, to staying direct automotive professionals at Saturn and Chevrolet dealerships in the place, Plum states.

At some point, Plum took a idea from his dad – renowned FCPS instructor and college administrator Ken Plum of the Plum Heart for Lifelong Discovering – and resolved to give educating a try. “He explained it’s a a single yr agreement, see what you feel,” Plum suggests. “Twenty-seven years afterwards, listed here I am.”


Lake Braddock automotive tech teacher David Plum is effective with a pupil in the car shop classroom.

Prakash remembers viewing Plum’s house all through Plum’s first calendar year training and serving to him produce worksheets. Then he commenced assisting Plum with a group of pupils who created and raced electrical cars and trucks, realizing he liked sharing his know-how with youngsters who had been also passionate about automotives.

Just a few many years afterwards, the lengthy-time Lake Braddock car teacher doing work with Plum retired and Prakash took the position, foremost an FCPS vehicle workshop right following to the classroom run by his aged junior higher buddy Plum.

“Anybody who understood us developing up would see the strategy of the two of us educating together as ridiculous,” reported Prakash, who’s been an vehicle teacher at Lake Braddock for 23 yrs now. “I consider which is maybe what provides us an advantage since, you know, we’ve been those people little ones, if you know what I’m saying, and so we are capable to relate with students who may well not stick to the classic route.”

Plum and Prakash pose for photos in their Rachel Carson Middle School yearbook from 1981.
Plum (still left) and Prakash (suitable) pose for photos in their Rachel Carson Center School yearbook from 1981.

Now, the duo participate in to each individual other’s strengths, with Plum noting he struggled with dyslexia as a little one, whilst Prakash was a “GT child, which stood for gifted and gifted back again in our day” and appears to be to have a additional purely natural grasp of automotive concept and things like electrical wiring. Prakash meanwhile praises Plum for being “very sturdy with the mechanical stuff in functionality, the true tricky sections of the arms-on get the job done of constructing engines and transmissions.”

Most importantly, they accept they share the similar function ethic, and rely on each other to preserve the students’ greatest interests at heart, irrespective of whether somebody is college or university-sure and looking for fingers-on encounter before majoring in engineering or aiming for a upcoming vocation as an automobile technician them selves.

Both of those nevertheless fondly remember Buddy Young, their car store trainer at South Lakes Superior. “He was these types of a great mentor – the purpose I bought up and went to university in those people times was for auto store course. I knew that was there for me and it built getting as a result of the working day a little bit much easier,” Plum says.

Their existing learners and colleagues have very similar praise for the Plum and Prakash crew.


Prakash and Plum stand in front of a Ford Mustang currently being worked on by students in their auto classes.
Prakash (still left) and Plum  (suitable) stand in entrance of a Ford Mustang now staying labored on by students in their vehicle lessons.

“They are the two teachers whose course I look forward to each one working day,” Wesley Carson reported. “They’ve taught all their pupils classes that go very well outside of working on cars and trucks. They truly emphasize perseverance, and say that life is a large amount like working a manual transmission – you stall at times, but you enable up the clutch, roll backwards a little bit and then maintain pushing ahead.”

Fellow educator Mark Khosravi, a geosystems instructor at Lake Braddock, claims of the duo: “They are structured, they rule with a agency hand mainly because security is paramount in an automobile workshop, but they are also sharing precious skills and know-how they’ve gathered given that significant college on their own.” 

“When young ones see that enthusiasm in lecturers, they will also have that enthusiasm in the classroom,” Khosravi stated.

Occupation-changers Plum and Prakash confess the notion of summers off and FCPS benefits and retirement offers have been a massive draw to the educating profession.

But an additional major attract was the idea of inspiring kids, the way Young had the moment motivated them, Plum and Prakash say.


Prakash, who has helped lead the Lake Braddock Secondary auto shop for 23 years, works with a student.
Prakash, who has co-lead the Lake Braddock Secondary Faculty vehicle system for 23 many years, functions with a college student less than the hood of a motor vehicle.

“I assume the most important factor a large amount of times with college students at this age is they deficiency self-confidence,” Prakash suggests. “ And so it truly is fun to support them figure out that they can do so much far more than they consider, and drive them to become better.”

“Working with the kids is the most significant reward in this article – when they come back and visit you from yrs in the past, that is when you know you have built a variance and you might be having an effects,” Plum reported.