Posted Date: 07/22/2019
Credit: Standard Democrat
A Sikeston high school skilled trade teacher is among 50 teachers and teacher teams from across the country who were named as semifinalists for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. They and their skilled trades programs are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards.
Brent Trankler, a U.S. Army veteran, has taught welding at SCTC since 2009 and was nominated for the award.
A model of lifelong learning for his students, Trankler has earned two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees, along with becoming a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) Welding Technology Subject Matter Expert. Trankler boosts his students’ confidence and pushes their limits by taking on large projects and allowing them to experiment, problem-solve and learn from mistakes.
Each year, his students volunteer to help approximately 250 Boy Scouts earn their welding and metal works badges. Upon graduation, almost all Trankler’s students pursue post-secondary education or receive job offers from businesses like Manac—the largest manufacturer of custom-built and specialty semitrailers in North America. Trankler was a semifinalist for the 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
The 2019 semifinalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online expert-led video learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The contenders will be asked how ideas from the modules might be used to inspire students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades. Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 18 finalists and, finally, name the three first-place and 15 second-place winners. Winners will be announced on Oct. 24.
The 18 winners will split $1 million in prizes. First-place winners will 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. Second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Past winners have dedicated their winnings to modernizing their shops, investing in specialized tools, promoting their programs to families and purchasing equipment to prepare students for higher-level accreditations. Semifinalists whose school, district 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, the entire prize will be awarded to the school.
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 third year of the prize, more than 150 teachers have been recognized as winners or semifinalists. Winners are invited to attend an annual convening to share best practices for advancing excellence in skilled trades education.
“Skilled trades teachers help hundreds of thousands of students each year experience the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from learning a trade,” Smidt said. “These teachers, their students and skilled tradespeople everywhere, too often don’t receive the respect and gratitude they deserve. Without them, construction would halt, homes, cars and appliances would fall into disrepair, and our infrastructure would crumble. We are thrilled to be able to honor and elevate the importance of their work.”