David McCoy, a welding teacher at Pleasure Ridge Park High School (Jefferson County), has been named one of 50 finalists for the prestigious Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
“It is an honor to be named top 50 in the country,” McCoy said. “Our program at PRP started in an old girl’s locker room six years ago. We have had amazing growth throughout the years.”
McCoy said the program at Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP) High School has transformed into a three-teacher welding program and has had various partnerships with Louisville businesses.
A total of $1.5 million in cash prizes will be awarded in October. The awards honor the vital role played by skilled trades teachers in bridging the gap between education and industry.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Harbor Freight Tools owner and founder Eric Smidt.
“The shortage of skilled trades workers in the United States is becoming a bigger challenge every day. America depends on high school skilled trades teachers to prepare the next generation of skilled trades workers,” Smidt said. “This prize is our way of recognizing the extraordinary work of skilled trades teachers, who rarely get the credit or attention they deserve.”
More than 1,000 applications were received this year, representing a 31% increase over the 769 who applied in 2022. The finalists are from 30 states and were selected by an independent panel of judges with expertise in career and technical education.
McCoy now advances to a second round of competition, where he will be asked to respond to an online expert-led learning module designed to solicit the finalist’s insights and creative ideas about teaching practices.
He also will be asked to submit a short video describing an aspect of his teaching that illustrates excellence. Two additional rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 25 winners and, finally, name the five grand prize winners and 20 additional prize winners.
Applications were accepted from U.S. public high school teachers in the following trades categories: agricultural mechanics, carpentry, construction, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, manufacturing, plumbing, transportation mechanics and repair, and welding.
A full list of finalists can be found on the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools website.