Tennessee High School Aviation Teacher Wins Second Place in 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence



An aviation maintenance teacher from Nashville 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.

This, according to a press release.

Derek Rowe, who teaches aviation maintenance at McGavock High School in Nashville, was surprised in his classroom 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, the press release went on to say.

“Skilled trades educators are crucial to helping students stay engaged and motivated in high school,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These amazing teachers connect students to promising careers, show them how to apply academics to the real world and help them feel pride and accomplishment—something they might not experience in all their classes. We make these awards because we believe in these teachers, we believe in these students, and we believe this vital sector deserves more support and investment.”

Three $100,000 first-place prizes were awarded to Cesar Gutierrez, a manufacturing teacher from Tucson, Ariz., Wendy Schepman, a landscape operations teacher from Stuart, Fla. and Brent Trankler, a welding teacher from Sikeston, Mo., with the prize winnings shared between the individual teacher or team and their high school skilled trades program.

Fifteen second-place winners across the country, including Rowe, were also surprised with the news that they and their schools had won the cash award. Because of school, district or state policy regarding individual cash awards, the schools of three of the winners will receive the entire prize winnings. In addition to the more than $1 million in first- and second-place prizes awarded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, the company Harbor Freight Tools donated $32,000 to 32 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 with a proven track record of dedication and performance. Prizes are awarded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of The Smidt Foundation.

“All of our roads and bridges, our schools and homes, and our planes and automobiles are built and are maintained by tradespeople,” Smidt said in the press release. “It is our dedicated skilled trades teachers, who inspire students to pursue these meaningful careers, that allow our economy to thrive and make so much of what we depend on possible. We are deeply honored to be able to shine a light on these extraordinary teachers today.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Derek Rowe” by MNPS.




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