I think we all know that amazing teachers are invaluable. Bob Kilmer is one of those teachers. He has been teaching in the state of Washington for 32 years and currently works at Enumclaw High School. He teaches construction, architecture, woodworking and computer-aided design. In collaboration with the welding class as well as a math class at a neighboring school, his architecture and construction class is building a tiny house for a local family in need. An incredible way to serve the community through education.
Recently, drawn from nearly 700 applicants around the country, Bob Kilmer won $100,000 in the Harbor Freight Tools For Schools prize for teaching excellence! We love hearing about local teachers making a profound impact in the lives of students and the community and being awarded for it. Read more about this incredible teacher and the prize in the press release below.
ENUMCLAW, Wash.–An Enumclaw High School construction and architecture teacher whose students are building a tiny house for a family in need has won the inaugural Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools announced today. The teacher and the high school will split prize winnings of $100,000.
Drawn from a field of nearly 700 applicants from across the country, Enumclaw High’s Bob Kilmer is one of three first-place winners who will each receive $30,000–to use at their discretion–and their public high schools will each receive $70,000 to support their skilled trades programs. The other winners are from New York and California.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools, awarded $510,000 to the three first-place winners and seven second-place winners. Harbor Freight Tools made additional donations totaling $44,000 to 44 semi-finalists.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate these remarkable teachers for inspiring their students to stay in school and develop skills that can lead to great paying jobs that are so important to our economy,” said Eric Smidt, CEO and owner of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools and founder of The Smidt Foundation, which established and operates Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “We created this prize to shine a spotlight on excellent skilled trades teaching and to attract investment in these classes so a strong skilled trades education can once again be available to public high school students across America.”
Kilmer has been a skilled trades teacher in Washington for 32 years after growing up in the trades. His parents owned a bakery and restaurant, his uncle owned a body shop, and his grandfather owned a construction company, where Kilmer worked summers as a teen. In addition to teaching construction, architecture, woodworking and computer-aided design, he also serves as an instructional technology coach for the Enumclaw School District.
“Making ‘hands on learning’ come alive for kids in our architecture and construction program is my passion,” Kilmer wrote in his application for the prize. “There is nothing more rewarding than creating enthusiasm for the industry and passing on the knowledge, skills and experiences that empower kids to get involved in the trades, the same way my grandfather, uncles, parents and teachers did for me. I think I have one of the most important and best jobs in the world.”
Students taking Kilmer’s architecture and construction class are currently building a tiny house for a local family in need. After they build the 162-square-foot-house, Kilmer’s class will partner with one of the high school’s welding classes to build the trailer to transport the house. To further collaborate with neighboring students, a math class at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington, will design the solar panels for the project. In previous years, Kilmer’s students have designed custom houses, built storage buildings, garages, gazebos and a local fire station. Kilmer is one of only a handful of skilled trades teachers in the country to receive National Board Certification.
Kilmer encourages his students to explore their interests and create a work-based learning project based on those interests. He then helps them set up internships, job shadows, mentoring and work experiences for his students in the construction and manufacturing industries in the greater Seattle area. He is also working to increase the representation of young women in the skilled trades.
“When you witness the moment a student really starts to put to work the knowledge and skills they have learned inside the classroom to solve a problem or meet a need in the adult world, it is humbling to think that you may have just changed that person’s life for the better,” Kilmer wrote. “It becomes extra special when a student’s interest and passion begins to blossom; they begin to see how subjects are connected and they focus on being great at something they love. The icing on the cake comes when they start giving back by passing on what they have learned to others.”
The other first-place winners are Brendan Malone, who teaches marine systems technology at Urban Assembly New York Harbor School in Brooklyn, and Jonathan Schwartz, who teaches advanced manufacturing at Colfax High School in Placer County, California.
Seven second-place winners will each receive $10,000, and their high schools will receive $20,000 for their skilled trades programs. The high schools of the remaining 44 semi-finalists will each receive a $1,000 gift card, donated by Harbor Freight Tools, to support their skilled trades programs. A list of the second-place winners and semi-finalists is available at: https://harborfreighttoolsforschools.org/2017-hftfs-prize-teaching-excellence/#finalists.
“All 10 of these winners are exemplary, and the ultimate winners are their students,” said Robin Kramer, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These teachers combine their considerable skill and creativity with dedication and zeal for learning–all for the benefit of their students and their futures. Their practices and results offer valuable approaches that other skilled trades teachers can adapt and use in their own programs. We look forward to bringing together all of them next summer so they can get to know each other’s work up close, and share strategies to promote excellence for the field at our first ‘Let’s Build It Institute.'”
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was designed to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools that inspires students to learn a trade that prepares them for a career after high school.
The need for skilled trades professionals in the U.S. is growing. Between now and 2024, there will be more than 1.5 million skilled trades job openings as Baby Boomers retire, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This inaugural prize competition drew nearly 700 applicants from 48 states, and the field was narrowed to 54 semi-finalists, then 10 finalists and then the three first-place winners. The application process included a learning component that gave all applicants access to ideas and practices through a series of online expert-led learning modules designed to help them be more effective in the classroom. All learning modules are available online at harborfreighttoolsforschools.org/2017-hftfs-prize-teaching-excellence/#modules.
The finalists were selected by panels of judges from the worlds of business, K-12 and higher education, the trades and crafts, non-profits and philanthropy. A separate panel of seven judges selected the first- and second-place winners. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools did not play a role in selecting the finalists or winners.
For more information about the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Teaching Prize for Excellence, please visit http://harborfreighttoolsforschools.org/2017-hftfs-prize-teaching-excellence/.
About Harbor Freight Tools for Schools
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt, to support the advancement of skilled trades education in America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, this program was created to foster and shine a light on excellence in skilled trades education in public high schools. Believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs and a workforce our country needs, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to stimulate greater understanding, support and investment by public entities and others in skilled trades education. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program. For more information, visit harborfreighttoolsforschools.org.
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