Joel Massarello, who teaches automotive technology at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest (OSTC-NW) in Clarkston, was surprised during an assembly on Oct. 24 by a representative from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools with the news that he and his school will receive $50,000—$35,000 for the school’s skilled trades program and $15,000 for him personally.
Massarello won second place in the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, earning his high school skilled trades program $35,000 as part of $1 million awarded nationally.
The school’s prize winnings will support the skilled trades program being recognized and the teacher’s or teacher team winnings can be used as they wish. The 2019 prize drew nearly 750 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by a separate independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership. The field was narrowed this summer to 50 semifinalists.
The Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt to recognize extraordinary public high school skilled trades teachers and programs. Prizes are awarded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of The Smidt Foundation.