CALABASAS, Calif. - Fifty-two skilled trades teachers from across the country and their high schools are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards after being named as semifinalists for the second annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence.
The semifinalists specialize in trades ranging from construction and carpentry to automotive repair, welding, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture mechanics. With some competing as individuals and others as teacher teams, the semifinalists were selected by an independent panel of judges from among a field of more than 500 skilled trades teachers who applied for the prize.
"These semi-finalists represent amazing depth and breadth in high school skilled trades education, and they exhibit incredible enthusiasm for teaching students to work with their hands, to love learning, and be prepared for the future," says Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. "We are thrilled to recognize their exceptional teaching and to raise the profile of their excellent work through these awards."
Through two more rounds of judging, the field of 52 semi-finalists will be narrowed to 18 first- and second-place winners. For the second round application, the semi-finalists will respond to a series of online expert-led video learning modules that are designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about their teaching practices and how to inspire their students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades.
The three first-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. The 15 second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. The first- and second-place winners are expected to be announced on Nov. 15, 2018.
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is an initiative of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools founder, Eric Smidt, to support the advancement of skilled trades education in America. With the aim to stimulate greater understanding, support, and investment by public entities and others in skilled trades education, this program was created to foster and shine a light on excellence in skilled trades education in public high schools.
"Skilled trades teachers are unsung heroes; they teach our students skills that help them in life and in careers," says Smidt. "These skilled and creative workers keep our communities thriving. We want to elevate the dignity and importance of this work by recognizing exceptional skilled trades teachers from our country's public schools who open the door to learning and opportunity."

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