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La Mirada Teacher Brent Tuttle Wins $50,000 for Teaching Excellence


HARBOR FREIGHT Tools for Schools winner Brent Tuttle (r), welding teacher at La Mirada High School with Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe in a 2019 picture.


BY TAMMYE MCDUFF • October 16, 2020

Brent Tuttle, a welding teacher from La Mirada High School has been named a winner as part of the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools Awards for teaching excellence.

Tuttle, who teaches welding at La Mirada High School in La Mirada, will receive $50,000, including $35,000 for the school’s skilled trades program and $15,000 for him personally. He joins 14 other prize winners, who each received $50,000, and three Grand Prize winners, who each received $100,000 as part of the annual prize.

“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 trades people,” said Danny Corwin, Executive Director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, “At a time when skilled trade workers are more essential than ever, so is trade education. We are honored and grateful to have the chance to shine a spotlight on these teachers’ amazing work.”

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence began in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools, in order to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trade arts.

A recent study by Jobs for the Future [JFF] found that students, who take multiple trade courses, are more likely to graduate than their peers and upon graduation, will be more prepared for further education or work in fields that routinely rank among the hardest jobs to fill. These trade jobs have now become known as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Trades teachers are educating and developing the workers of the future,” Smidt said, “Many of the students will become the workers who keep our critical care infrastructure, communication networks, homes and cars up and running. The prize is our way of saying thank you to their teachers.”

Many of Tuttle’s students are nontraditional, meaning that their gender is not well represented in the welding trade. Several of Tuttle’s female students have won statewide SkillsUSA competitions, and one student earned second place in the country in a welding sculpture contest. In 2016, Tuttle was selected as National SkillsUSA Alumni of the Year and he was a finalist for the 2019 Prize for Teaching Excellence.

The 2020 awards had more than 600 applications from 48 states and included three rounds of judging. Each panel of expert judges came from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership. The application process, included responses to questions and a series of learning modules, designed to solicit each teacher’s experience, insights and creative ideas about their approach to teaching.

Tuttle has taught at La Mirada High School for 19 years, he developed four-year welding program that includes over a 1,000 hours in the welding shop as well as completion of all traditional academic classes. Students in Tuttle’s welding program have a 98 percent graduation rate.



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