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Harbor Freight Tools for School Prize for Teaching Excellence has Significant and Lasting Impact on Teachers, Skilled Trades Programs and Local Communities

Los Angeles, CA

Harbor Freight Tools for School Prize for Teaching Excellence has Significant and Lasting Impact on Teachers, Skilled Trades Programs and Local Communities

More high school students want to enroll in skilled trades classes and local employers are more interested in developing partnerships after teachers are named winners of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

These are just two of the positive findings in an independent evaluation of the prize, which has been awarded annually since 2017. To date, 88 teachers and their programs have been awarded $4.7 million.

The FDR Group, who conducted the evaluation, found that winning the prize led to the following outcomes:

  • More than 70 percent of winners and principals said the prize increased public awareness of high school skilled trades programs.
  • More than 70 percent of winners said enrollment increased in their CTE programs and more parents were willing to consider Career and Technical Education classes for their children.
  • Nine in ten winning teachers say they now feel they have a responsibility to be advocates for skilled trades education in their communities and are more energized and passionate about what they do.
  • Winners are more confident in taking on leadership roles (65 percent) and have become more involved in local, state, or national Career Technical Education activities (55 percent).
  • Majorities of winners, finalists and principals all agreed that the prize helps reduce stigma around skilled trades classes and jobs.
  • More than 70 percent of winners reported an increase in local employers reaching out to collaborate with the school and greater collaboration in aligning skilled trades offerings to meet business needs.

The highlights of the findings can be found here.

The findings are based on quantitative data from online surveys completed by winners, finalists, and school principals from prize-winning schools. The research also included qualitative data from virtual focus groups with winners and in-depth interviews with finalists, principals, former students, and local business partners.

“We are thrilled to see the impact the prize is having on the teachers and their programs,’’ said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “From the beginning, our goal has been to increase understanding, support, and investment in high school skilled trades education. High school skilled trades teachers are often overlooked when it comes to respect and recognition. Given the dramatic shortage of skilled trades workers and the acceleration of infrastructure investments, the work of high school skilled trades teachers is more essential than ever before.’’

Applications for the 2022 prize opened on March 23. This year, prize cash awards will increase from $1 million to $1.25 million and the number of winners will increase from 18 to 20.

LeAnn Wilson, Executive Director of the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) shared how the prize has put a spotlight on outstanding high school skilled trades education:

“In just a short time, the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence has become a difference-maker in the career and technical education sector. By focusing on excellent high school CTE teachers, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is highlighting the important role they play in educating the next generation of skilled trades professionals,” Wilson said. “The prize has brought new, positive energy and excitement, and has reminded us of the importance  to recognize excellence among CTE teachers.’’

Below are quotes from prizewinning teachers about the impact of the prize:

“I was burnt out three years ago.  Now I’m climbing higher and taking on more challenges because the prize has made me hungry to push beyond what I thought my limits were.”

“You all really probably have no idea what this prize has done for me as a teacher, and what life and energy it has brought me at this point in my career. There is probably no questionnaire that can quantify what this really means. This has been like a refreshing drink of cool water on a hot day. It has really impacted me as a person, and as a teacher.”

“I never ever in 15 years saw myself in the education community as a leader. This has opened my eyes to a brand-new perspective on how I impact others in a big way.”