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A Message from a 2017 Prize Semifinalist and 2018 Winner

Dear Fellow Skilled Trades Teachers,

My name is Matt Erbach and I am a precision machining teacher from Streamwood High School in Streamwood, IL. In 2017, I was named a semifinalist for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2017 Prize for Teaching Excellence, but did not emerge as one of the winners. I took what I learned from the first year, applied it to my classroom, and was one of 15 second place winners for the 2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence!

I encourage you to please take some time out of this hectic period in the school year to finish, polish, tweak and submit your application for the 2019 Prize for Teaching Excellence. Doing this may be the best boost for your program you will ever have, and while the application is not short; the benefits are well worth the effort. Winning this Prize brought me, my students, and school a lot of joy and pride and I hope you get to experience the same!

Take the time to brag about your program and what it does well, show pride in your students’ successes, your connections to the community, and school-to-work pathways. I recommend that you write and review your application a few times before submitting to make sure it best reflects the excellence of your teaching and students and to really engage with the learning modules.

This Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program is the most exciting prize in Skilled Trades education and leaving your application incomplete or not applying means you are missing out on the prize itself as well as the positive program exposure, interaction with some of the elites in Skilled Trades education, and a NICE tool cart trophy.

So, go to and begin or continue working your application now! Applications are due Monday June 17 at 5:00pm PT!

Good luck and enjoy the end of the semester!

Matt Erbach

Streamwood High School

2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence 2nd Place Winner

2017 Prize for Teaching Excellence Semifinalist