Education

Calling All "Trades" Teachers: $1M in Awards & Recognition Await

Watch video of this year's winners being surprised & find out how to enter next year's awards


The founder of one of the country's biggest tool and equipment retailers says he has a special place in his heart for high school teachers who teach the trades, skills like carpentry and plumbing, training students to be mechanics and electricians.

Harbor Freight 's Eric Smidt says he's also alarmed that there aren't nearly enough students going into the trades to fill the jobs of the 1.5 million trades workers who are expected to retire by 2024.

Semi-finalist Roxanne Amiot was the first woman to graduate from Connecticut's Bullard-Havens Technical High School's auto shop program and now teaches there.

It's why, last year, his company created an annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence , with $1 million dollars in prizes. They got 557 applications from 49 states. Cameras were rolling when they surprised the three first-place winners with the good news:

The first place winners got $100,000 each, and 15 second-place winners received $50,000, with the awards divided between the teacher and the school's skilled trades program. The first place winners were:

  • Gary Bronson, an industrial diesel mechanics teacher at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, Ohio.
  • Charles Kachmar, who teaches metals and welding at Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, Georgia. His kids give back by building beds for homeless women and children.
  • Andrew J. Neumann, a building trades teacher at Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center in Bay City, Michigan, whose students actually design, build and market a new house from the ground up.

Winner Andrew Neumann (back, second from right) used his prize winnings to buy land so his students could build more houses.

The company is now taking nominations for the 2019 awards. If you know a great high school skilled trades teacher, they want you to encourage encourage them to apply. Click here for a link to the application. The deadline is June 17, 2019.

(Images: Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Facebook page )

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