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Retired auto shop owner brings business to the classroom for 'real world' teaching: ‘Perfection is expected’

Industrial tech teacher Rob Van Der Hagen and BOLD High School rising seniors Austin Schroeder and Tate Sheehan detail their 'real-world' shop class.

One Minnesota shop class teacher is bringing his real-world business experience to the classroom, helping prepare students for future careers.

"These guys are going to be out there in the real world shortly. They need to know what it's like on the job," industrial tech teacher Rob Van Der Hagen said on "Fox & Friends Weekend" Saturday. "In our shops, it's real world. They're treated as such. Perfection is expected. They've got to do the job. Customer satisfaction. All that stuff."

Van Der Hagen is an industrial tech teacher at BOLD High School in Olivia, Minn. He began his teaching career after the pandemic where he found himself in need of a new profession. 

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After selling his auto parts stores, Van Der Hagen told FOX9 the idea of teaching crept into his mind around 2021. He joined BOLD High School's Industrial Tech Program last fall. 

Two of his students joined "Fox & Friends Weekend" Saturday, outlining how Van Der Hagen's class has helped them.

"I feel like I'm getting prepared for a career," BOLD High School rising senior Austin Schroeder said. "Really get it done on time, get it done right. He'll walk you through it if you need it, but he'll put you to the test. And that really helps."

Another rising senior Tate Sheehan said he went in to Van Der Hagen's class with little experience but that his education was "better than I expected."

"Just real-world application. It's less of a do this and more of a just get this done however you want to get done. If you need help, he's there to help you," Sheehan said.

Van Der Hagen doesn't stop innovating his shop class there. To achieve his real-world application goal, the former auto shop owner finds projects for his students by reaching out to the community.

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"If we run out of projects to work on, we just put a post out there and it's like the tooth fairy shows up and the shop is full within a day or two," he said.

"The one regret I have for this year is not keeping track of how many projects we worked on, how many vehicles we fixed, how many snowmobiles we got running, how many four wheelers we got running. It's tremendous numbers, pushing 100."

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