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CALABASAS, Calif.—A construction teacher from Washington, an advanced manufacturing
teacher from California, and a marine systems technology teacher from New York are the first place
winners of the inaugural Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence,
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools announced today. The three teachers and their schools will
each receive $100,000.

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes
outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools, awarded $510,000 to
the three first‐place winners and seven second‐place winners. Harbor Freight Tools made
additional donations totaling $44,000 to 44 semi‐finalists.

The first‐place winners are Bob Kilmer, who teaches woodworking, computer‐aided design and
architecture and construction from Enumclaw High School in King County, Washington,
Brendan Malone, who teaches marine systems technology at Urban Assembly New York Harbor
School in Brooklyn, and Jonathan Schwartz, who teaches advanced manufacturing at Colfax
High School in Placer County, California.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate these remarkable teachers for inspiring their students to stay in
school and develop skills that can lead to great paying jobs that are so important to our
economy,” said Eric Smidt, CEO and owner of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools and
founder of The Smidt Foundation, which established and operates Harbor Freight Tools for
Schools. “We created this prize to shine a spotlight on excellent skilled trades teaching and to
attract investment in these classes so a strong skilled trades education can once again be
available to public high school students across America.”

Drawn from a field of nearly 700 applicants from across the country, the three first‐place
winners will each receive $30,000, and their schools will each receive $70,000 to support their
skilled trades programs.

Bob Kilmer has been a skilled trades teacher in Washington for 32 years, and his love of the
trades started when he worked summers as a teen at his grandfather’s construction company.
In addition to teaching construction, architecture, woodworking and computer‐aided design, he
also serves as an instructional technology coach for the Enumclaw School District. Students
taking his architecture and construction class are currently building a tiny house for a local
family in need. Kilmer’s class is partnering with one of the high school’s welding classes to build
the trailer to transport the house, and a math class at a neighboring school will design the solar
panels for the project. Kilmer is one of a handful of skilled trades teachers in the country to
receive National Board Certification.

Brendan Malone has been a marine trades teacher for 17 years and previously ran his own
marine systems company for more than a decade before heading the maintenance and
restoration of New York City’s South Street Seaport Museum’s fleet of historic vessels. A
certified Marine Systems Technician with a hundred‐ton U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license,
Malone attended a marine trades high school in New Haven, Connecticut, where he developed
his love for the trades. The marine systems technology program at the Urban Assembly New
York Harbor School prepares students to work in a career building, maintaining and repairing
boats. It is the only high school in the country authorized to administer the American Boat and
Yacht Council’s Marine Systems Technician Certification Exam—a critical credential in the
marine industry. Malone’s juniors and seniors are required to participate in marine field
internships, and this year, his class is partnering with the South Street Seaport Museum in New
York to restore a 1930s tugboat as part of their internship program.

After years of owning a construction company, Jonathan Schwartz turned to teaching math at
Colfax High School in rural Northern California. When the woodshop teacher retired and the
shop was in danger of closing, Schwartz took over the construction program because he knew
the value of hands‐on learning. When the drafting program faced the same fate, he took over
those classes and created a new program that combined drafting, woodshop and advanced
manufacturing. Under the program, now known as “pre‐engineering,” Schwartz’s students use
computer software to design wood projects and then build those projects with traditional shop
tools, computer numerical control (CNC) equipment, 3‐D printers and laser cutters. The
program’s capstone course pairs students with a mentor to design and build a large project
over the course of their senior year. Schwartz also designs woodworking tools and has a
YouTube channel where he demonstrates project ideas for woodworking, CNC manufacturing
and applied math.

The following seven second‐place winners will each receive $10,000, and their high schools will
receive $20,000 for their skilled trades programs:

  • Roxanne Montarro Amiot
    Automotive Technology
    Bullard‐Havens Technical High School
    Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Teaching team: Gerald “Dave” Huffman and Patrick Wadsworth
    Construction Technology
    Gulfport High School
    Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Ed Hughes
    Construction, Technology Education
    Sheboygan Falls High School
    Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin
  • Scott Mayotte
    Automotive Technology
    Concord Regional Technical Center
    Concord, New Hampshire
  • Teaching team: Cole Smith and Bill Hartman
    Construction, Woodworking
    Rancho Cotate High School
    Rohnert Park, California
  • Robert David White
    Automotive Technology
    Parkside High School
    Salisbury, Maryland
  • Randy Williamson
    Construction Trades
    Williamsport Area High School Career and Technical Education
    Williamsport, Pennsylvania

“All 10 of these winners are exemplary, and the ultimate winners are their students,” said Robin
Kramer, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These teachers combine their
considerable skill and creativity with dedication and zeal for learning—all for the benefit of their
students and their futures. Their practices and results offer valuable approaches that other
skilled trades teachers can adapt and use in their own programs. We look forward to bringing
all of them together next summer so they can get to know each other’s work up close, and
share strategies to promote excellence for the field at our first ‘Let’s Build It Institute.'”
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was designed to recognize
outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools that inspires students to
learn a trade that prepares them for a career after high school.

The need for skilled trades professionals in the U.S. is growing. Between now and 2024, there
will be more than 1.5 million skilled trades job openings as Baby Boomers retire, according to
the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This inaugural prize competition drew nearly 700 applicants from 48 states, and the field was
narrowed to 54 semi‐finalists. The application process included a learning component that gave
all applicants access to ideas and practices through a series of online expert‐led learning
modules designed to help them be more effective in the classroom. All learning modules are
available online at‐hftfs‐prize‐teachingexcellence/#

The high schools of the remaining 44 semi‐finalists will each receive a $1,000 Harbor Freight
Tools gift card to support their skilled trades programs.

The finalists were selected by panels of judges from the worlds of business, K‐12 and higher
education, the trades and crafts, non‐profits and philanthropy. A separate panel of seven
judges selected the first‐ and second‐place winners. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools did not
play a role in selecting the finalists or winners.

The school’s prize winnings will support the skilled trades program being recognized, and the
teacher’s or teacher team winnings can be used at their discretion.

For more information about the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Teaching Prize for Excellence,
please visit‐hftfs‐prize‐teaching‐excellence/

About Harbor Freight Tools for Schools
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor
Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt, to support the advancement of skilled trades education in
America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and
creativity of people who work with their hands, this program was created to foster and shine a
light on excellence in skilled trades education in public high schools. Believing that access to
quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity,
good jobs and a workforce our country needs, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to
stimulate greater understanding, support and investment by public entities and others in skilled
trades education. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for
Schools program. For more information, visit