Grants for Teachers

Harbor Freight Competition Recognizes Teachers in Trades

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has opened the new application window for applying to win cash prizes for teaching excellence. This competition puts the emphasis on recognizing educators and programs teaching the "skilled trades" in public high schools. It’s sponsored by the Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder Eric Smidt, to support the advancement of skilled trades education in the United States.

For 2021 three grand prize winners will receive $100,000, with $70,000 of that going to the trades program they work in and $30,000 going to the teacher or teacher team. An additional 15 winners will each receive $50,000, with $35,000 going to the public high school program and $15,000 going to the teacher or team.

Previous winners have included:

  • Kathryn Worley, an industrial technology teacher for West Hills High School in Santee, CA, whose students build furniture and manufacture machined parts, learning about welding, computer-driven machining and other skills. Nine in 10 students who take the program's first semester end up continuing through all three years. More than 90 percent of students complete all assigned projects, and 85 percent believe the program teaches them skills like responsibility and timeliness. One in three of her students enter the trades.

  • Nicole Taylor, who teaches construction for Warren Technical School in Chamblee, GA, immerses special-needs students in basic carpentry, electrical and masonry before diving into specific trades. Classes tackle community projects, including constructing and maintaining shelters for homeless people.

  • Wayne Violet, an automotive technology teacher for Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, MD, who guides his students through taking donated vehicles and repairing them for sale or auction or preparing them for being scrapped. At least half of the seniors in Violet's program have received cooperative work placements.

All three teachers became educators after many years of working in industry.

Access to the application requires registering on the teaching excellence website. Those applications are due by 5 p.m. Pacific time, May 21, 2021. The finalists will be named July 14, followed by a round two application process. The winners will be announced in October.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.