Driver's Ed

Baldwin supports PBHS Driver’s Ed program
Posted on 06/10/2019
Jeff Baldwin, co-owner of Baldwin Automotive Group, hands two sets of Ford Escape keys to PBHS educators (front row, from left) Mitch Davis, Charley Harper and Mike Sowatzke.

Baldwin Automotive Group has loaned a pair of 2018 Ford Escapes for students to use in the Driver’s Education program available at Poplar Bluff High School. 

The SUVs will serve to replace an older model Dodge Caravan and Ford Taurus owned by the R-I district, and repurposed in previous years to operate the summer school program. Baldwin Automotive even purchased and installed passenger-side brake kits for the sport utility vehicles, according to instructor Charley Harper. 

“It’s a great program for kids, no question about it,” commented Baldwin General Manager Bruce Hutson, who helped facilitate the partnership. Hutson has known Harper since the two lived in Ironton in the late 1980s, and both wound up moving to Poplar Bluff to advance their careers. 

Driver’s Ed, which runs through June, serves around 70 high schoolers beginning at age 15. After participating in a series of classroom lectures, the student drivers spend four days behind the wheel with one of the instructors in order to complete the road safety course. 

Harper, a PBHS Spanish teacher, leads the program with Mike Sowatzke and Mitch Davis, who both teach in the Social Studies Department. The faculty members have received certification through Missouri State University, one of three colleges approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

Co-owner of Baldwin Automotive Group, Jeff Baldwin, said he could remember benefiting from Driver’s Ed back when he was a student. A graduate of the PBHS Class of 1978, Baldwin is happy the first driving experience for many of the participants will now be in a top-selling vehicle, he noted. The local car dealership has supported the program in the past.

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Cutline: With several participating students in the background, Jeff Baldwin (green shirt), co-owner of Baldwin Automotive Group, hands two sets of Ford Escape keys to PBHS educators (front row, from left) Mitch Davis, Charley Harper and Mike Sowatzke on Friday, June 7.

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