(CBS4) – Two Colorado high school teachers were named winners of the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. On Wednesday, Cherry Creek automotive technology teacher Brian Manley and Highlands Ranch engineering teacher Mike Shallenberger were each surprised with $100,000.
Manley and Shallenberger represent two of only three grand prize winners nationwide. The award designates $70,000 for their high school skilled trades program and $30,000 for the teacher.
The award was created in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools.
“Trades teachers are educating and developing the tradespeople of the future,” Smidt said. “Many of the students in their classes today will become—as soon as next spring—the workers who keep our critical care infrastructure, our communication networks, our homes and cars up and running. The prize is our way of saying thank you to their teachers.”
Brian Manley teaches automotive technology at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus in Centennial. This fall, he will begin his 26th year of teaching. The master automobile technician is currently in his final year of a doctoral program focused on leadership for education equity.
Mike Shallenberger is an engineering teacher at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The 21-year veteran teacher designed a Career Discovery program that offer tours and facilitate paid internship opportunities. Shallenberger’s students have the chance to earn their associate’s degree, tuition-free, while still in high school.
“This year has been one of the toughest on record for skilled trades teachers as they switch between in-person, remote or blended learning—all while trying to do their life’s work of preparing the next generation of tradespeople,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “At a time when tradespeople are more essential than ever, so is trades education. We are honored and grateful to have the chance to shine a spotlight on these teachers’ amazing work.”
The 2020 prize drew more than 600 applications from 48 states and included three rounds of judging. In July, the field was narrowed to 50 finalists.
An additional 15 teachers will win $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $15,000 to the individual teacher. The 32 finalists who were not named winners will receive $1,000 gift cards from Harbor Freight Tools.