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NCCER Congratulates Prize for Teaching Excellence Winners

11/01/2021 Press Release

ALACHUA, Fla. — Harbor Freight Tools for Schools recently announced the 18 winners of its $1 million Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, including four NCCER-accredited instructors.

The annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, now in its fifth year, was created to spotlight excellence among high school skilled trades teachers, a group of educators that is often overlooked and underappreciated. In recent months, the importance of high-quality skilled trades education has received more attention nationally because of an urgent shortage of skilled craft professionals in the workforce.

The 2021 prize drew more than 700 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership.

The grand prize winners and their schools will receive $100,000 — including $70,000 for the high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the teacher. An additional 15 prize winners and their schools will each receive $50,000 — with $35,000 going to the  program and $15,000 to the teacher. Due to the school, district or state policy regarding individual cash awards, the schools of three of the winners will receive the entire prize winnings.

Congratulations to the following NCCER-accredited instructors:

Grand Prize Winner

Jeffrey Bertke

Electrical Trades

Upper Valley Career Center

Piqua, Ohio

Prize Winners

Jessica Bowlin

Construction Technology

Auburn High School

Auburn, Alabama

Brian Copes

Construction & Manufacturing

Chickasaw High School

Chickasaw, Alabama

Eric Wagaman


Franklin County Career & Technology Center

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Click here to see the full list of prize winners.

“High school skilled trades teachers and their programs are an essential part of addressing the skilled trades worker shortage,’’ said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These dedicated educators make a huge difference in the lives of young people every day, setting them on a course for a meaningful career and to make a difference in their community.’’

About NCCER — NCCER is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation created by the construction industry to develop standardized curriculum and assessments with portable credentials and certifications for skilled craft professionals. NCCER provides a comprehensive workforce development system that includes accreditation, training, assessment, certification and career development solutions for the construction and maintenance industries. For more information, visit or contact NCCER customer service at 888.622.3720.

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