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Excellence Continued: Prizewinners Receive National Recognition and Funding to Expand Apprenticeship Programs

“Intensive work-based learning programs led by school districts, community organizations, and labor and industry groups can provide valuable opportunities for youth to gain exposure and experience in skilled trades roles.”

– Challenges & Opportunities to Expanding Work-Based Learning in the Skilled Trades, Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship / April 2021

We are incredibly proud to see the continued successes of our Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence winners. The prize annually awards more than $1 million to 18 outstanding skilled trades teachers and programs in U.S. public high schools. As our network of winning teachers grows each year, we take great pride in their accomplishments and expanding impact. Just this year, 2019 winner Brent Trankler of Sikeston, MO, and 2020 winner Chad Sutton of Garrett, IN, received national and state recognition for their apprenticeship programs and the connections to meaningful work their programs have made for students.

As one of three Grand Prize winners in 2019, Brent Trankler has already proved that he leads his program in excellence. With $100,000 in grant funding from the local Workforce Development Board and their approval to create a Youth Registered Apprenticeship at Sikeston Career and Technical Center, he continues to lead his students toward employment standards and opportunities. Starting with his welding technology program, Trankler will formalize relationships with more employers and aim to provide a high-quality sustainable workforce to support the local community. The program will use an earn-while-you-learn model, introducing students to on-site work experience and the lucrative avenues available to them after graduating.

“I can’t think of a single better and more cost-effective use of the taxpayer dollar,” Trankler said.

Not far away in Indiana, 2020 Prize winner Chad Sutton recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship for his school’s Welding Apprenticeship. Sutton and his administration at Garrett High School collaborated with local workforce board NE Indiana Works, The Office of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships, and multiple employers that will support the apprenticeship program. With 40 high school juniors and seniors set up to participate, the program will be the first of its kind in the state. Sutton’s students will complete 21 college credits and a college certificate in structural welding. Their work with employer partners will go toward the completion of welding competencies and on-the-job hours. Sutton is looking forward to the support this program will build for registered apprenticeships, to connecting students to employment opportunities, and creating retention strategies for local employers.

The next group of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence winners will be announced in late October 2021. We hope many of them will follow in Trankler and Sutton’s footsteps.