SkillsUSA Instructors Finalists for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

Published: July 27, 2020
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Leesburg, Va., July 27, 2020 — Nineteen SkillsUSA instructors are among 50 teachers and teacher teams from across the country who have been named as finalists for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Their high school trades programs are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards. The SkillsUSA finalists include:
  • Arizona: Jeremy Tarbet, Canyon del Oro High School (Automotive)
  • California: Brent Tuttle, La Mirada High School (Welding) and Nicholas Jordan, Montecito High School (Construction)
  • Colorado: Brian Manley, Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (Automotive)
  • Georgia: Dave Darden, Cedar Shoals High School (Automotive); Josh Hall, Statesboro High School (Construction and Agriculture); and Nicole Taylor, Warren Technical School (Construction)
  • Idaho: Francis Carlson, Bonners Ferry High School (Cabinetmaking and Millwork)
  • Indiana: Andrice Tucker and team member Steve Owen, Central Nine Career Center (Automotive)
  • Maryland: Wayne Violet, Washington County Technical High School (Automotive)
  • Missouri: J. Tinker, Salem R-80 Schools (Construction)
  • Mississippi: Robert Caylor, Gulfport High School (Automotive)
  • New York: Alfia Anderson, High School for Energy and Technology (Electrical) and James Buck, Wayne Technical and Career Center (Electrical)
  • Texas: Raul Ortega, Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center (Plumbing)
  • Utah: Jay Hales, Riverton High School (Automotive)
  • Virginia: Shawn Burns, Burton Center for Arts and Technology (Mechatronics and Robotics)
  • Wisconsin: Jay Abitz, Freedom High School (Automotive and Collision)
  • West Virginia: Kevin Cornell, Carver Career and Technical Center (Automotive)
To read brief biographies of the finalists, go to: The 2020 finalists now advance to a second round of competition which will narrow the field to 18 winners who will split $1 million in prizes. Three of those teachers will be grand prize recipients who each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. The other 15 winners will each receive $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Finalists whose school, district and/or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings were eligible to apply on behalf of their school’s skilled trades program. If they win, their entire share of the prize will be awarded to the school. All winners will be announced in late October. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools. The prize recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation. Now, in the fourth year of the prize, more than 200 teachers have been recognized as winners or finalists. Winners join a nationwide network of outstanding trades teachers who convene regularly by webinar and in a three-day summer workshop to share best practices and advance their field.

About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit partnership of education and industry founded in 1965 to strengthen our nation’s skilled workforce. Driven by employer demand, SkillsUSA helps students develop necessary personal and workplace skills along with technical skills grounded in academics. This SkillsUSA Framework empowers every student to succeed at work and in life, while helping to close the skills gap in which millions of positions go unfilled. Through SkillsUSA’s championships program and curricula, employers have long ensured schools are teaching relevant technical skills, and with SkillsUSA’s new credentialing process, they can now assess how ready potential employees are for the job. SkillsUSA has more than 372,000 annual paid members nationwide in high schools, colleges and middle schools, covering over 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, and is recognized by the U.S. departments of Education and Labor as integral to career and technical education. With the addition of our alumni, membership is 434,141. We have served nearly 14 million members since 1965. For more information:

About Harbor Freight Tools for Schools

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in public high schools across America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs and a workforce our country needs. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Program. For more information:

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