Jacie Broughton, the owner of Marblehead Auto School, has been teaching the town’s teens how to drive for the past 16 years.
“I love this. I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Broughton said.
Teaching teens how to drive is an important job, she said.
“You drive forever, and it’s the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do, so it should be the most important thing,” Broughton said.
Before owning her own driving school, she said she was an interior designer while also working at a different school part-time.
“You have to work for another driving school for a while before you can open your own,” Broughton said.
With interior-design work, there would be breaks between different projects, so she said she would fill that time with teaching.
“I would call my friend that owns the other driving school and say ‘Hey, I got a few weeks’ and they would put me in classrooms or on the road driving so that I was always working,” Broughton said. “I loved it. The pay is horrible, but I loved it.”
Eventually she decided to open her own driving school in Marblehead where she lives. The only other driving school was at Marblehead High, but she said many students were going outside of town to learn.
“On day one, I had one girl in it and then the next week for her second class she came back with four friends,” Broughton said. “The month after I had 20 kids, and I’ve never averaged less than 25 in a class. It was all word of mouth, I never advertised.”
Since first opening, Marblehead Auto School has gotten a lot busier, she said. Her daughter, Michele Rodgers, has been helping with the business for 10 years.
“Without her, the place would collapse,” Broughton said.
Broughton said there are a lot of amazing aspects of the job. Seeing kids drive for the first time is one of her favorite parts.
“I see in their faces when they first start to drive, that ‘nervous, but this is the best thing that could ever happen to me in my life’ look on their face,” Broughton said.
Another aspect she said she loves is when old students reconnect with her. After they get their licenses, they will send her pictures of driving accomplishments, such as tight parallel-parks they were able to do in Boston.
She also sees old students around Marblehead all the time,.
“I tell my instructors, ‘Listen, you don’t want to be the teacher they turn on their heel and walk away, you want to be the one that they come up and grab your hand and are excited to see you,’” Broughton said.
She is always looking for part-time help, including now. When training her instructors, she said she trains them to have kindness toward the students.
“Sometimes you might be the only person that’s nice to this particular student in their life. They might not have a great home life, they may not have a great school life, they might not have a lot of friends, and they get in the car with you and you’re nice to them and they can talk to you,” Broughton said.
After teaching most of the teens in town how to drive over the past 16 years, she said some of them are starting to have kids of their own. Broughton said that she hopes some of them will end up as her students in a few years.