The 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence will Recognize 18 Winners in October
LOS ANGELES – High school skilled trades teachers and their programs are often overlooked and underfunded. As the United States faces a critical shortage of skilled trades workers, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is shining a spotlight on excellent public high school skilled trades programs with its annual Prize for Teaching Excellence.
Today, the program announced that 61 public high school teachers nationwide are finalists for the Prize, now in its fifth year. The finalists are from 30 states and specialize in trades including advanced manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive and agriculture mechanics. The teachers were selected by an independent panel of judges from a field of more than 700 applicants. The list of finalists is available here.
The winners will be announced in late October. More than $1 million in cash prizes will be shared by 18 teachers and their skilled trades programs.
“Despite the dramatic need for a new generation of workers, research has shown that most U.S. high school students do not have access to high-quality skilled trades programs. The goal of the prize is to highlight some of the most outstanding programs nationwide and to celebrate teachers who are making a difference in the lives of students,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “Our hope is that the stories of these dedicated teachers will inspire other communities to create similar programs for their own high school students. All high school students who want to learn a skilled trades and have a talent for working with their hands should have the same opportunity.”
There is rare bipartisan support for increased investment in skilled trades education in high school. More than 76 percent of Republicans, Democrats and Independents said they favor increased public funding for skilled trades education and think that offering skilled trades classes in high school should be a priority, according to polling by NORC at the University of Chicago. The poll was commissioned by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.
Eric Smidt, the owner and founder of Harbor Freight Tools, said high school skilled trades programs provide a pathway not just to a good job, but also to a meaningful career and a good life.
“High school skilled trades teachers are heroes. Our teachers and their programs are an essential part of meeting the national challenge of educating the next generation of skilled trades workers.”
Winners join a nationwide network of outstanding trades teachers who convene throughout the year and in a three-day summer institute to share best practices and brainstorm ways to improve high school skilled trades programs.
The 2021 finalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online expert-led learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The finalists will be asked how ideas from the modules might be used to inspire students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades. Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 18 winners and, finally, name the three Grand Prize winners and 15 additional prize winners.
Grand Prize winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the skilled trades teacher behind the winning program. The 15 additional winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher. Winners whose school, district and/or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize award were eligible to apply on behalf of their school’s skilled trades program. If they win, the entire share of the prize will be awarded to the school.
Winners will be announced in late October.
About Harbor Freight Tools for Schools
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, 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 is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program. For more information, visit: harborfreighttoolsforschools.org
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