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Third Time’s the Charm


Third Time’s the Charm

Dear Fellow Skilled Trades Teachers,

My name is Peter Wachtel and this is my fourth year as an architecture and product innovation design teacher at Adolfo Camarillo High School in Camarillo, California. In 2017 and 2018, I applied for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, and was named a finalist in 2018, but did not emerge as a winner either year.

Persistence and creativity are key… I took what I learned from my first two years of trying and applied it to my classroom and teachings. The third time is a charm: finally in 2019, I was named a winner of the 2019 Prize for Teaching Excellence!

For me, failure was not an option. Even though I applied in 2017 and 2018 and did not win, I was determined to enter each year. Hopefully to win, but even more to learn creative new ways of teaching.

My advice… Now is your moment. During this difficult time for the world, when we all have more hours to spare and need a creative and educational outlet, I encourage you to apply for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Manage your time, be creative with your teachings and use it in your application. Brag about your program, show your creativity, your students learning, and the collaborations with programs, pathways, community and the world. Doing this will help you teach, be more creative, learn and grow as an educator, as well as a person. And if you win, it will be amazing for your students, school and community! Do a little each day, write and review your application, and really get to know the learning modules. The application is tough, but it will give you so many resources to teach, share and learn for years to come.

Winning this prize brought me, my students, and school an amazing amount of recognition and numerous new tech for our students to use: 3D printers, a CNC Machine, laser machine, sign-making machine, and much more, like fieldtrips to industry and scholarships. I wish that I could enter for a fourth time, just for the learning modules!

Go to and begin or continue working on your application, which is due on May 20th at 5:00p.m. Pacific Time.

Thank you, teachers, for all that you do! The teaching technique that we use the most is imagination. Whatever is around you is worthy of exploration. The desire and love for what you do— make it part of your life, and the skills, experience, as well as the wisdom will come.

Peter Wachtel
Product Design and Architecture Teacher
Adolfo Camarillo High School (Camarillo, CA)
2019 Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner