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Prizewinning Teacher Attends State of the Union Address


Prizewinning Teacher Attends State of the Union Address

Cory Torppa, a 2022 grand prize winner of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, says attending the State of the Union address in Washington D.C. in February was a “once in a lifetime” experience. His congresswoman, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, invited Torppa because of his recent prize win. Torppa teaches construction, manufacturing and engineering at Kalama High School in Kalama, WA.

There were several stories written about Cory’s visit, including a mention in Education Week.

Our favorite was this Q&A with Construction Dive.

Award-winning CTE teacher attends State of the Union Cory Torppa, who earned $100,000 for his Washington state high school’s construction program, said it’s important to introduce students to the trades., Construction Dive, Feb 16, 2023


Construction Dive: What do you as a teacher need to more effectively do your job?

Cory Torppa: I believe it is imperative to help teachers and industry representatives engage with each other at a local level. This is a huge key to my success. It is not only about funding, but a partnership to help understand each other’s needs and how they can support similar goals.

Additionally, it is critical that the partnership among these parties be mutually beneficial. Several years ago it was typical for schools to look to industry for support through tools, equipment and financial support. A more effective model is to bring everyone to the table, share needs and goals, and find a mutually beneficial path forward where each party is giving and receiving, resulting in success for all parties.

I really need a career-connected counselor at Kalama High School. This is someone who is dedicated to and has a deep understanding of many career opportunities for our students. A career-connected counselor is essential in connecting Kalama students with post-secondary education information and events within the region. A career-connected counselor could help inform both students and parents of the future career pathway options. This is a vital link between Kalama High School students and the post-secondary pathway they take.

Additional stories about Cory’s visit.