Harlem High School STAR Student Danny Banks likes to get his hands dirty.
With a 1900 on the SAT, the 17-year-old earned his school’s STAR Student honor and ranks fourth in his class.
Banks hopes one day to put his intellect to use beneath the hoods of cars.
“Even as a kid playing with Hot Wheels I had a love of cars, but more than that, I needed to know how things worked and how cars worked,” Banks said.
But Banks is no mere grease monkey, said Harlem High automotive instructor Nick Hayes, the man Banks picked as STAR Teacher.
“He’s just an incredible, intelligent young man who has the ability to excel at whatever he chooses to do in life,” Hayes said of Banks. “The fact that I had some influence over what he wants to do is very humbling.”
Already accepted into Georgia Tech, Banks intends to study mechanical engineering in the hopes of designing car engines.
It’s a career path Banks directly credits Hayes for helping him discover.
“(Hayes) helped me find my passion,” he said during his speech at the STAR Student reception last month.
After earning an automotive degree from Augusta Technical Institute, Hayes received a teaching degree from the University of Georgia. He started his teaching career 10 years ago at Harlem High, his alma mater.
“Hopefully, like Danny, I’m teaching these kids more than just how to fix an engine,” he said. “I don’t want them to be grease monkeys or shade-tree mechanics. I want them to learn that there is plenty of money to be made for someone who is honest and good.”
Such wisdom is why Banks said he picked Hayes as STAR Teacher.
“While he’s teaching us about cars, he’s also giving us life lessons,” Banks said. “He’s teaching us how to be a good person.”