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Fourth Time’s the Charm

New York

Fourth Time’s the Charm

Dear fellow skilled trades teachers,

My name is Tom Aubin. I teach the welding program at Champlain Valley Educational Services in Plattsburgh, New York. I am a veteran teacher of 28 years and still excited to take in all the knowledge and new information I can to keep my program strong. I suspect that you have the same passion for learning and the desire to pass on your knowledge to your class.

I first applied for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence four years ago. I was named a finalist all four years and finally won on my fourth try. You can’t imagine how awesome that is!

I want to encourage you to keep moving forward with the application process and keep entering every year if you are not successful. I first started this process to enhance my program and promote the welding students that are in my class. Along the way, I nearly gave up but had to remind myself that I am doing this for my students, not for me. If I gave up, then I am giving up on my whole class, and they deserve my full effort.


With school budgets as tight as they are, it would have taken years to purchase the equipment that this prize provided. With the new equipment comes new opportunities for your students and it will also make your job as a teacher much easier and less stressful. That alone makes following thorough with the application worth it, not to mention the personal funds.



Here are a few pointers that helped me on my application.

  1. Make sure you realize that each response is limited to how many characters you are allowed (2,000 characters max per question). Write all your thoughts down but be prepared to be as concise as you can with your final draft.
  2. Set aside a time to work on this. If you don’t you may be surprised how fast the deadline approaches.
  3. Look through the entire learning module, then focus on the information that you will use for your response and re-read those sections.
  4. Use this opportunity to really think about your class and get inspired by the new opportunities this prize could assist your program with. Your students will be grateful.

I would also like you to know, that Harbor Freight Tools for Schools doesn’t just award your program the money and move on. They really follow through after the cameras have faded. You will be given a variety of learning opportunities designed to make teaching easier and be able to collaborate with other prize winners. That continuing collaboration will surely keep you motivated and inspired.

Hopefully this has inspired you to keep moving forward. You can start or continue your application at Applications are due on May 21, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

I wish you the best of luck!


Best regards,

Tom Aubin

Welding Teacher

Champlain Valley Educational Services