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A Message from a 2018 Prize Winner

Dear Fellow Skilled Trades Teachers,

My name is Matthew Barbercheck and I am an Industrial Arts/CAD/Spanish teacher from Republic-Michigamme Schools in Republic, MI.

I’m writing to say this: keep going. You could win the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, just like I did. It’s not easy, but finishing the application is worth it. Here’s why.

I remember telling my girlfriend that I was going to win the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2017, the very first year it was offered. I was ignorantly convinced that no one could beat my drive and passion. 

You can imagine my disappointment when I didn’t make it past the first round. 

My disappointment quickly faded when I realized how the application process reinforced what I was doing right and inspired me with excellent new ideas.

That meaningful content led to getting past the first round, and eventually, being named as one of the 15 Second Place Winners of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence.

When I had told my girlfriend I was going to win the prize, and then I didn’t, I thought I had made a liar of myself. What I didn’t realize is that the universe was just working on a different timeline than I had in my head.  My statement did come to fruition. Not quite like I had imagined it, but sure enough, she was in the shop the day I was awarded the prize with tears in her eyes, over an entire year after I had made that comment. 

I’m fully convinced that it was not winning the first year that helped me to win the second year. It’s work. A lot of work, I know. For the prize money involved, and the growth gained, I would still be applying this year had I not won last year. Go to and keep up the great work! Applications are due Monday June 17 at 5:00pm PT!

And thank you for serving our students in the all-important way that trades teachers do. 

Good luck and enjoy the rest of the semester!

Matthew Barbercheck

Republic-Michigamme Schools

2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence 2nd Place Winner