#BOCESproud! On October 21, Rockland BOCES Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) Welding Instructor Andrew Saweikis received the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, winning $50,000 for the program in the nationwide competition. Mr. Saweikis is one of 15 prize winners from 14 states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New York and Texas.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was launched in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools, to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools.
“Among the key things we came to appreciate during the pandemic is the value of hands-on learning and the incredible resilience and commitment of our teachers,” said Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools. “We are grateful that these outstanding winners and thousands of educators like them across the country are developing tomorrow’s skilled workforce.”
“I especially appreciate seeing the look of accomplishment when a shop skill finally clicks,” said Saweikis. “Students often tell me that a weld, cut, or part is ‘finished and good enough.’ But after further discussion, they realize that it can be improved or even remade. ‘If we have time to do a job, we have time to do it right,’ is always reinforced in my classroom and I love that they learn from this lesson, build on their skills, and try to improve on all their future projects.”
The 2021 prize drew more than 700 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership. The application process, which included responses to questions and a series of learning modules, was designed to solicit each teacher’s experience, insights and creative ideas about their approach to teaching and success in helping their students achieve excellence in the skilled trades.
Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in public high schools across America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs and a workforce our country needs.
Andrew Saweikis represents the best of Rockland BOCES. His dedication to teaching not only improves our students’ lives today, but also opens the door for more opportunities for success in college and career tomorrow.