SkillsUSA Instructors Recognized by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

Published: October 19, 2020
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LEESBURG, Va. — Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has awarded $400,000 in teaching excellence awards to seven SkillsUSA instructors from across the country in the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. The prize, launched in 2017, recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the teachers who inspire students to learn skills to prepare for life after graduation. Excellence is defined through the program as teachers who love their subject matter, exhibit a high degree of knowledge and skill in their trade area, implement a curriculum matched to a relevant career pathway, encourage exploration and experimentation by students in a safe environment, and connect students to new relationships and experiences outside the classroom. Over $1 million in prizes were awarded for 2020, including three first-place prize awards of $100,000, with $70,000 going to the public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 going to the eligible individual skilled trades teacher behind the winning application. Fifteen second-place winners were each awarded $50,000, with $35,000 to the public high school program and $15,000 to the eligible teacher. (Because of school, district or state policy regarding individual cash awards, the schools of two of the winners will receive the entire prize winnings.) “It is exciting to see so many SkillsUSA instructors recognized by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools this year,” said SkillsUSA executive director Chelle Travis. “We salute these winners as positive examples for all of career and technical education. These SkillsUSA instructors have demonstrated both a passion for teaching and innovation in the classroom.” The 2020 winners include these SkillsUSA instructors: First Place ($100,000)
  • Brian Manley, Automotive Technology, Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, Colo.
Second Place ($50,000 each)
  • Brent Tuttle, Welding, La Mirada High School, Calif.
  • Nicole Taylor, Construction, Warren Technical School, Chamblee, Ga.
  • Wayne Violet, Automotive Technology, Washington County Technical High School, Md.
  • Robert Caylor, Automotive Technology, Gulfport High School, Miss.
  • Alfia Anderson, Electrical, High School for Energy and Technology, N.Y.
  • Shawn Burns, Mechatronics and Robotics, Burton Center for Art and Technology, Va.
Cash awards given to schools will support winning teachers’ skilled trades programs. Individual winnings can be used however the winner wishes. The 2020 prize drew more than 600 applications from 48 states and included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership. The application process, which included responses to questions and a series of learning modules, was designed to solicit each teacher’s experience, insights and creative ideas about their approach to teaching and success in helping their students achieve excellence in the skilled trades. All learning modules are available here. In July, the field was narrowed to 50 finalists. The 32 finalists who were not named winners will receive $1,000 gift cards from Harbor Freight Tools. Additionally, given the challenges teachers are facing due to COVID-19, teachers who applied for the prize but did not advance to become finalists were eligible to receive $100 gift cards from Harbor Freight Tools.

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:
SkillsUSA Contacts
Jane Short or Karen Kitzel, SkillsUSA 703-777-8810 or

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Media Contacts

For more information about SkillsUSA, contact:

Jane A. DeShong Short

Senior Manager, Public Relations/Communications

Karen Kitzel

Associate Director, Communications

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