By Raiza Giorgi

Helping students learning valuable life skills, as well as exposing them to potential career paths has been the highlight of Rob Hill’s career as the automotive instructor at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School for the past seven years. He totals more than 20 years teaching and will be retiring at the end of the year, but not before he helps the program continue. 

“Love being part of the CIMA team and establishing the racing club at the high school,” Hill said. “I have enjoyed teaching the kids and seeing their enthusiasm for the subject grow as they go through the program.” 

Hill teaches intro and advanced automotive as well as collision and repair. They work on students’ vehicles as well as those of the teachers on campus. He is so proud of his students as quite a few entered the automotive world. 

Jennifer Oseguera graduated in 2018 and said she credits her career as a custom painter to Hill. She currently is working at Airtrix in Goleta and will be graduating this year from the automotive program at Santa Barbara City College. 

“He taught me how to paint and I realized I liked this part of automotive,” Oseguera said. 

Classic cars are lined up at Santa Ynez High School during last year’s Pirate Garage Show.
File photo

Hill said that his alumni often come back to help out with events and the engines will be revving at the seventh annual Pirate Garage Car Show, a vital fundraiser for the Pirate Garage Club, that will take place in early June at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School as it was rescheduled from March 21 due to the Coronavirus. 

The show will feature many vehicles displayed by their local owners, as well as sales of raffle tickets, food, and Pirate merchandise.

The Pirate Garage Club supports SYHS students who are passionate about anything and everything on wheels while teaching career skills such as public relations, philanthropy and management, as well as mechanical skills. 

“He is 110 percent always for the kids and spends countless hours outside of the workday helping them,” said Mindi Christian, volunteer and former Regional Occupational (ROP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs leader. “He takes them to different events and learn more to excel. Rob is involved in the community and getting the students to represent the automotive program at various events like SYV Touch a Truck and Youth Rec to give back.

“The kids have such a big part in putting it together, and it’s a really great family and community event,” Christian added. 

This success of the event is owed not only to the students but to Hill, the Pirate Garage Club supervisor, Christian said. With Hill retiring, this show will be especially important to his students. 

“He relates to his students and their love of racing and mechanics, and he credits his own high school auto shop program with keeping him in high school and from racing on the streets,” Christian said. “He takes them to races and uses his break to make sure the students are cared for.”

The club also has a successful racing team that competes in the National SkillsUSA competition, which seeks to “empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens,” according to its website. Pirate mechanics have placed often in regionals and won state championships in 2016. 

To hear more about the Pirate Garage Club or get more information on the show, email Hill at