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Sarah Davis

Communications Specialist

Mary Zaleski

Director of Communication Services

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Joel Massarella, an automotive instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus – Northwest (OSTC-NW) and Demetrius Wilson, a mechatronics and manufacturing teacher at Oakland Schools Technical Campus – Northeast (OSTC-NE) are two of 50 semifinalists in the nation under consideration to win major funding for their respective high school skilled trades programs.

Massarella and Wilson are semifinalists in the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. 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.

Joel Massarello became an automotive instructor at OSTC-NW in 2003, after several years as a master technician at a Caterpillar equipment dealer. In addition to earning articulated credit and certifications, Massarello’s students receive job interview training from a General Motors lead project engineer. Massarello’s shop, staffed by his students, provides free auto repair services for the community’s elderly and disabled residents, as well as for low-income families. Massarello prepares his students not only to fix cars for individuals without the resources to pay for repairs—he also encourages his students to show care and concern for their customers.

Demetrius Wilson teaches mechatronics—the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems—and manufacturing at OSTC-NE. In addition to helping students learn computer-aided design, robotics, fluid power, mechanical drive systems and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming, Wilson mentors three fellow teachers.

With a curriculum aligned to postsecondary-level and state standards, Wilson’s mechatronics program allows students to receive articulated credit with numerous post-secondary institutions and to pursue advanced learning through the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program. Within the past three years, 17 of Wilson’s students have earned enough articulated credits to be awarded an associate degree at no cost to them or their families.

Massaro and Wilson will now advance to the second round of the competition where they will respond to online expert-led video learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The field will be narrowed to 18 finalists and, from there, three first-place and 15 second-place winners will be announced Oct. 24, 2019.

The 18 winners will split $1 million in prizes. First-place will receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to the skilled trades program; second place will receive $50,000, with $35,000 going to the skilled trades program. 

To see the full list of semifinalists, visit

To learn more about Harbor Freight and the awards, visit


About Oakland Schools
Oakland Schools is a regional service agency that offers support services to school personnel which are best delivered regionally and provide cost, size and quality advantages to those we serve. Oakland Schools is an autonomous, tax-supported public school district governed by Michigan General School Laws and is one of 56 intermediate school districts (ISDs) established in Michigan in 1962.

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