Betsy Anderton and Luke Stewart Daphne High School trades teachers, were named finalists for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Their high school …
Betsy Anderton and Luke Stewart Daphne High School trades teachers, were named finalists for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Their high school skilled trades program is in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards.
Anderton and Stewart, who teach agriculture at Daphne High School, were chosen by an independent panel of judges from a field of more than 600 skilled trades teachers who applied for the prize.
The 50 finalists—some competing as individuals and some as teacher teams—hail from 23 states and specialize in trades including manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive, agriculture mechanics and technical theater.
“Trades teachers are truly unsung heroes, and our prize seeks to show everyone how powerful these classes can be,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “Skilled trades education has enormous potential to offer students pathways to multiple postsecondary opportunities, and these are the teachers who are providing them with the knowledge, skills and inspiration year after year.”
Anderton and Stewart team-teach agriculture. Anderton earned a doctorate in instructional design from the University of South Alabama and began teaching to pass hands-on skills to the next generation, including her three daughters. Stewart earned two bachelor’s degrees from Auburn University and a master’s degree in agriscience education from Murray State University.
Together, the teachers promote collaboration in their classrooms, where students build a playhouse from the ground up each year and refurbish old equipment. Students also assist other teachers and programs by installing a marine science aquaponic system, using drone technology to help the landscape class develop a plan for their plants, building lockers for the girls’ locker room and crafting props for theater productions. This past year, over 150 of Anderton and Stewart’s students earned an industry credential. In a recent poll they conducted of their graduates, 90 percent have found employment that draws on the skills they learned in the agriculture program.
The 2020 finalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online expert-led video learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The contenders will be asked how ideas from the modules might be used to inspire students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades. Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to 18 winners and, finally, name three of those teachers Grand Prize recipients. All winners will be announced in late October.
The 18 winners will split the $1 million prize. Grand Prize winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. The 15 additional winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Finalists whose school, district and/or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings were eligible to apply on behalf of their school’s skilled trades program. If they win, their entire share of the prize will be awarded to the school.