Washington County Technical High School teacher Wayne Violet is again among the finalists for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

The nationwide competition for skilled-trades teachers could net up to $100,000 for the school’s automotive-technology program. Violet and his skilled trades program are in the running for a share of the $1 million in total cash awards.

Violet also was a finalist for last year’s prize.

“It is a great honor to be chosen as a finalist for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program this year, and honestly an even greater honor to have been chosen two years in a row,” Violet said in an email. “I genuinely hope to be selected as a grand prize winner this year. The prize money would be windfall that could help promote and maintain a state of the art automotive technology program.”

Violet, a 1995 graduate of the school, is among 50 teachers from across the country advancing to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online video learning modules designed to draw their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices, according to a news release from Harbor Freight.

Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 18 winners. Three of those will be first-place winners, receiving $100,000 for their public high school skilled-trades program. Of that, $70,000 will go the skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual teacher.

The 15 additional winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to the high school program, and $15,000 to the teacher.

All the winners will be announced in late October.

“Trades teachers are truly unsung heroes, and our prize seeks to show everyone how powerful these classes can be,” Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, said in an email. “Skilled trades education has enormous potential to offer students pathways to multiple post-secondary opportunities, and these are the teachers who are providing them with the knowledge, skills and inspiration year after year.”

Violet has been teaching at Tech High for 11 years, after working as a master technician and service manager in the field.

He holds 12 Automotive Service Excellence certifications and attends training courses year-round to provide students with a competitive education. He also offers a cooperative work program that includes job shadowing and paid apprenticeships, and his class helps run a small used-car dealership.

“… Our main focus is our mini dealership, where students take vehicles that have been donated, evaluate the needed repairs to return them to road worthiness and to calculate if they are able to be retailed back to the public,” Violet said. “The students in the auto tech program work with the students from the collision repair program to repair and recondition these vehicles.

“They take great pride in their work and have the satisfaction of knowing they gave the donated vehicle a new life,” he added. “The dealership experience provides as close to a real world experience as possible at a secondary school level.

“Students can earn the privilege of working on their own vehicles as well,” he said. “The goal is to make the class as challenging, current, rigorous, and enjoyable as possible.”



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