High school skilled trades teachers win $1.5 million from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

LOS ANGELES — A total of $1.5 million in cash prizes will be awarded today to 25 outstanding public high school skilled trades teachers and their programs across the United States. 

The full list of 25 winners for 2023 is here, including three grand prize winners: Scott Larson, Carpentry, Construction, North Baldwin Center for Technology, AL; Alexander Adkisson, Construction, Manufacturing, Green Mountain High School, CO; and Andy Buehler, Automotive, Upper Valley Career Center, OH.

Scott Larson, a carpentry and construction instructor at the North Baldwin Center for Technology, was a $100,000 winner.

All 25 teachers will be surprised with the news that they have won the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. The winners teach a variety of skilled trades, including construction, carpentry, plumbing, welding, automotive repair, agricultural mechanics, advanced manufacturing, and industrial technology.


The prize, now in its seventh year, was created to recognize excellent high school skilled trades teachers, a group of educators who are frequently overlooked and underappreciated. Since 2017, the program has awarded more than $7 million to more than 130 teachers and their schools’ programs. The mission of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is to increase understanding, support and investment in skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. 

This year there are winners from 17 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah.

“There is a growing shortage of skilled trades professionals in the United States,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These incredible teachers are educating the next generation of skilled tradespeople through inventive, hands-on programs. We are grateful for the work they do every day in classrooms across the country.”

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Eric Smidt, owner and founder of Harbor Freight Tools. 

“We are thrilled to announce our newest group of 25 prizewinning teachers,” Smidt said. “They'll join the more than 100 teachers across America who are now part of a tight network of outstanding teachers who are working together to lift up excellent skilled trades education. We hope this recognition and support will serve as a catalyst for greater investment in this critical sector.”

This year there were more than 1,000 applications for the prize, a 31 percent increase from 2022. The application process included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from education, industry, nonprofits, and philanthropy. 

The 25 winners and their programs will receive a total of $1.5 million in cash prizes as follows:

Five Grand Prize Winners
Amount: $100,000 each
($70,000 for their school’s skilled trades program and $30,000 for the teacher)

Twenty Prize Winners
Amount: $50,000 each
($35,000 for their school’s skilled trades program and $15,000 for the teacher)
In some cases, due to school, district or state policy, the schools’ skilled trades programs will receive the entire prize winnings.



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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).