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Fifty U.S. high school skilled trades teachers are finalists for $1.25 million in cash prizes

Fifty public high school skilled trades teachers were named as finalists today for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. A total of $1.25 million in cash prizes will be awarded in October, when the field is narrowed down to 20 winners.

“We deeply appreciate the work skilled trades teachers do to prepare and inspire our next generation of tradespeople,” said Eric Smidt, founder of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “Their work is critical, because while our country’s need for building and repairs is growing, our skilled trades workforce is shrinking. High quality skilled trades teachers offer their students a pathway not just to a good job, but also to a meaningful career and a good life.”

With this year’s prize, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools will have awarded more than $6 million to more than 100 U.S. public high school teachers and their schools – supporting tens of thousands of students along the way. In 2022 for the first time, there were applicants from all 50 states, including a record 768 applications received.

The finalists are from 33 states and were selected by an independent panel of judges with expertise in career and technical education. Applications are accepted from teachers in the following trades categories: agricultural mechanics, carpentry, construction, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, manufacturing, plumbing, transportation and welding.
The finalists are from the following 33 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont and Utah.

The list of finalists is available here.

In October, more than $1.25 million in cash prizes will be shared by 20 teachers and their skilled trades programs.
According to an independent evaluation conducted earlier this year by The FDR Group, there are significant impacts from winning the prize. More high school students want to enroll in skilled trades classes and local employers are more interested in developing partnerships after teachers are named winners of the prize. Winners are also more likely to become advocates for skilled traded education.

Winners join a nationwide network of outstanding trades teachers who convene throughout the year including a four-day summer institute called “Let’s Build It” to share best practices and develop new ideas to advance high school skilled trades education.
The 2022 finalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to an online expert-led learning module designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The finalists will also be asked to submit a short video describing an aspect of their teaching that illustrates excellence. Two additional rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 20 winners and, finally, name the five grand prize winners and 15 prize winners.

The five 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 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

This article was released by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.