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Perseverance is the Key

Dear Fellow Skilled Trades Instructors,

My name is Andrice Tucker and this is my 6th year as an automotive instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood, Indiana. I applied for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2018, 2020 and was named a finalist in both years before finally being named a winner in 2022. This was a great accomplishment for not only myself, but for my students as well. But what made this victory even sweeter, was the effort and persistence that it took to get there.

When I first applied back in 2018, I was just finishing up my first year of teaching and I did not know much about the application process. I just told our story the best I could, and I was named a finalist. Although I didn’t win that year, it was a great learning experience, and I knew that I would try again someday.

Now we fast forward to 2020 and the tough task of the pandemic and E-learning. This was a tough and draining task for me, but I looked at the application and decided that this would be a good opportunity to try again. Working from home did allow me to focus more and I was able to really tell the stories of success of my students and my program.

After I made it past the first-round application in 2020 and was named a finalist for the second time, I was very confident that we could break through and finally win it all that year. But unfortunately, we came up short. As frustrating as it was to come up short for a second year, I still decided at the moment that I would try again and put everything I had into the application process.

When I went through the application process in 2022, things felt completely different. I set a plan to take my time on each question and answer them all thoroughly. I also double and triple checked my grammar and stories to ensure they met The Platinum Standard or above. When I finally won, it felt like a huge win for my students. Many students were not even aware that I had applied for the prize, But they are all going to benefit now and in the future.

Tips for the application process

Here are a few tips for the application that I recommend for my fellow instructors who are applying for the prize:

  • Take it slow – As you read each question, don’t overwhelm yourself with the perfect response right then and there. Think through it, pause if needed, and outline keep points before you respond.
  • Take each question a little bit at a time – As you progress through the application, it might be helpful to answer one or two questions at a time. This will help you focus and think clearly.
  • Pay attention to the details – Be thorough and clear with your stories. The judges want to hear how your teaching inspires others. The key details really matter.
  • Don’t give up – Although the process can be long and sometimes seems overwhelming, don’t give up. Remember how much we encourage our students to keep pushing through when they struggle with certain lessons and labs. Now is your time to be a great example because this process will not go unnoticed.

Fellow instructors, I wish you the best of luck through the application process. Regardless of the results of the contest, everything you do matters for our students. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence would not be possible without you!!!!

So go to and start or continue your application today! Applications are due on Friday, May 5th at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Best regards,
Andrice Tucker
2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner