Central High School teacher Jerry Webb is among 52 teachers and teacher teams named semifinalists for the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools 2018 Prize for Teaching Excellence, the company says in a news release.
The nominations put them in the running for a share of $1 million in cash prizes.
Webb, who teaches mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, was chosen from among a field of more than 500 skilled trades teachers who applied for the prize.
The semifinalists come from 27 states and specialize in trades ranging from construction and carpentry to automotive repair, welding, advanced manufacturing and agriculture mechanics.
The 18 first- and second-place winners, to be chosen through two more rounds of judging, will split $1 million in total cash awards. The three first-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their school 's skilled trades program and $30,000 to the teacher or team, the news release states.
The 15 second-place prizes are $50,000, with $35,000 to the school and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Winners will be announced Nov. 15.
"These semifinalists represent amazing depth and breadth in high school skilled trades education, and they exhibit incredible enthusiasm for teaching students to work with their hands, to love learning and be prepared for the future," said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. "We are thrilled to recognize their exceptional teaching and to raise the profile of their excellent work through these awards."
Webb, a 21-year veteran teacher, uses a project-based approach to teaching and learning. His students have designed and created solar-powered chicken tractors and sold them to local farmers, and they've built off-grid, tiny homes for the community.
Webb formed a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority, where students built a portable, off-grid, solar power generating trailer named the "Green Machine." This year, 93 percent of his students passed the Dual Credit exam through Chattanooga State Technical Community College, giving them industry certification in solar technology.