Harbor Freight ups support for skilled trades teachers

Harbor Freight Tools For Schools increases cash prizes, recognizes more trades teachers.
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Dennis Johnson in shop
Dennis Johnson, a 2019 Tools For Schools prize winner shown in his ‘Warriors Garage’ at Fallbrook High School in Fallbrook, California.

Increased recognition of skilled trades teachers and their high schools is vital today. And Harbor Freight Tools is raising its stake in their 2022 Tools For Schools program by increasing the number of winners and cash prizes.

“To step up the respect, recognition, and validation skilled trades teachers deserve,” said Harbor Freight Tools, “we’re increasing the annual prize to $1.25 million and plan to honor and support 20 more outstanding teachers this year.”   Check out the video HERE.

“Prizewinning teachers tell us the prize has not only been a source of pride, it also has attracted more students to their classes, and new business and union partners,” said Eric Smidt, founder of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, LLC, and owner and founder of Calabasas, California-based Harbor Freight Tools.

“Five years ago, we launched a new prize to honor the essential but undervalued work of high school skilled trades teachers,” said Smidt.

Since then, the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence has become one of the most respected and sought-after prizes in career and technical education, said the founder.

Click image to enlarge.

“With this year’s prize, we’ll have awarded over $6 million to more than 100 U.S. public high school teachers and their schools – supporting tens of thousands of students along the way,” said Smidt.

The company said it deeply appreciates the work skilled trades teachers do to prepare and inspire our next generation of tradespeople. Their work is urgent, because while our country’s need for building and repairs is growing, our skilled trades workforce is shrinking.

Dennis Johnson, a prizewinning automotive repair teacher at Fallbrook High School in Fallbrook, California, said, “winning the prize has had a huge impact on myself as well as the school. It winds up being an opportunity to be respected and supported and do things you would have never dreamed you could do.”

From the Harbor Freight Tools For Schools website: “Johnson teaches students with his ‘Warriors Garage’ curriculum. Beyond being aligned with Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation standards, Johnson’s custom curriculum recently qualified to fulfill the University of California A-G requirements,” it read.

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools logo

“The designation, which requires approval from the University of California and which few skilled trades courses receive, means that Johnson’s class is officially a ‘college preparatory’ course, on par with laboratory science or algebra,” the description read.

“Johnson’s class motto is to always think outside the box. ‘We get our students to think about how to improve, make something that doesn’t exist, or make something versus just buying it,’ Johnson said.”

The 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence will be awarded in the fall, and teachers can submit applications until May 20, 2022.

Do you know an excellent public high school skilled trades teacher? Apply at

Harbor Freight Tools signage shutterstock

Harbor Freight, a privately held tool and equipment retailer which operates a chain of retail stores as well as a mail-order and e-commerce business, said, “we’re about much more than just tools. We’re about the opportunities tools represent the projects, the builds, the problem solving, the creativity, and the connection they give us to others.

Founded in 1977, Eric Smidt and his father launched Harbor Freight Tools. “Forty plus years, 1,200+ stores, and over 40 million satisfied customers later, not only are we still family owned, but we’ve stayed true to our mission.”