Maine Department of Education Highlights Collision Educator for 'Women in CTE'

Feb. 23, 2024
This instructor is being highlighted for CTE month (February) by the Maine Department of Education.

The Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools throughout Maine, is celebrating CTE month this February, according to a news release

They're doing so by highlighting some of the women who have found their path in life through career and technical education.

Danica Wooster has taught the Auto Collision program at the Mid-Coast School of Technology (MCST), in Rockland, Maine, for the last 13 years.

The program offers a diverse look into the automotive collision industry, including working with the most up-to-date tools and equipment and learning skills in welding, paint preparation, dent repair, and detailing.

The program she now teaches is the same program that got Wooster started in auto collision when she was in high school, according to the release.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do. My parents suggested I take the class and the rest is history,” said Wooster. Following high school, she attended WyoTech for Collision/Refinishing, and then started working as a technician in the auto collision industry, eventually earning a business degree and then transitioning to teaching the trade right here in Maine.

“Although I didn’t have a background in education specifically, I feel like I played that role many times in my life – from teaching horseback riding lessons in high school to working side-by-side with entry-level technicians in the shop,” said Wooster. “Both of my parents were also educators, and both were a huge support system for me as I started my career,” she added.

Wooster says there are a lot of things she loves about working in CTE but one of her favorites is introducing her trade to the students. “I love seeing a student’s face when all of a sudden something clicks – it’s truly special.”

Being able to teach something she is passionate about while experimenting and learning alongside the students is another huge perk for Wooster. Explaining that many people don’t understand that auto collision repair is an art in and of itself. “It’s making something new again, but every single job is different and handcrafted,” she said.

During her time working in CTE, Wooster has had many opportunities to grow professionally as well, by earning a master’s degree and continuing to hone her craft by working in the collision repair field during her summers off from teaching.

“I get to make connections with other people in my trade and in education, and I get to work in a building that has so many other talented CTE teachers,” said Wooster. “It’s all an amazing experience, and I think it’s a very unique part of being a CTE teacher.”

One of the things Wooster is the proudest of is being an advocate for CTE, promoting how important it is for many students and industries but also the incredible opportunities it creates for students.

“Attending CTE when I was in high school had a much different, and often negative, connotation,” said Wooster. “We have come a long way from that.”

“Danica has inspired countless students to pursue non-traditional career pathways,” said Bobby Deetjen, Director of the Mid-Coast School of Technology. “Her students continue to break down barriers and succeed in shops all over Maine.”

Wooster shared her advice for students interested in CTE, in the release:

“Working my entire career in a non-traditional field has taught me that the only person I need to prove myself to is myself,” she said. “I’ve heard my fair share of ‘no,’ but I think having a little bit of grit is what makes the difference, what made me keep moving forward. I always encourage my students to have a little ‘grit’…to push through when things get tough and to not be afraid to make mistakes. My entire trade is based on mistakes…and that’s what helps us learn and get better at what we do!”

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