Apply now for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which will award cash prizes totaling $1 million to 18 of America's best public high school skilled trades teachers or teacher teams and their programs.
Teachers and teacher teams can apply at www.hftforschoolsprize.org through June 17.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt. The prize recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the valuable work of teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation.
"I have a special place in my heart for skilled trades teachers, especially those who teach in high school," Smidt said. "It is an honor to be able to recognize these unsung heroes each year and support them and their skilled trades programs that are so important to our country's future."
The 2019 prize will award more than $1 million to 18 public high school skilled trades teachers or teacher teams and their programs. Three first-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their high school skilled trades program and $30,000 directly to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team. Fifteen second-place winners will each win $50,000, with $35,000 going to the high school program and $15,000 to the teacher/team. Teachers whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings are eligible to apply on behalf of their school's skilled trades program.
More than 1,200 teachers from 49 states applied in the first two years of the prize, and more than 100 teachers have been recognized as winners or semi-finalists. Their winnings have supported programs that serve more than 11,000 students. Previous applicants have taught a variety of skilled trades including automotive technology, welding, carpentry, agriculture mechanics, advanced manufacturing, plumbing and HVAC repair. Previous winners have helped their students build mobility scooters for the elderly, operate a full-service, licensed auto repair facility that serves customers, and design, construct and sell a home.
"These teachers excel not only at teaching trades, but also at building confidence, nurturing soft skills and laying the foundation for their students to pursue their passions," said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. "We want to shine a spotlight on their essential contribution to students and to our country."
The application process and the prize are designed to give teachers access to ideas and practices through a network of likeminded exceptional educators and leaders. Applicants are asked to review and respond to a series of online expert-led video learning modules.
"The impact on our program is life-changing since we only get $500 to $1,000 a year for our budget," said Gerald "Dave" Huffman, a construction technology teacher at Gulfport High School in Gulfport, Mississippi, who was a winner of the 2017 prize. "This is an opportunity to invest for our future."
There will be three rounds of judging, each scored by independent panels of reviewers. Applicants ranking in the top 50 will be announced on July 17. They will advance to a semi-finalist round and will be asked to complete a second set of learning modules. The semifinalists will then be narrowed to the top 18. Three first-place and 15 second-place winners will be announced on Oct. 24. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools does not determine the semifinalists or winners.