Harbor Freight Tools for Schools prize for teaching excellence goes to Bill Culver for his geometry in construction program.
First, there was deception.
Then, the surprise.
Mike Culver was asked to take a walk with his school principal, to see a new piece of equipment in the theater department.
It was all a ruse.
And it worked.
Culver, a skills labor teacher at Evergreen High School, needed to be in the auditorium in order to be honored by his students, administrators, and the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program.
Culver was named one of the grand prize winners of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program. He was awarded $100,000 to go toward his school’s skilled trade program.
“So we walk over here. As soon as the curtain opens up, there’s all this hoopla going on. I was stunned. I was stunned,” Culver said.
Culver knew he was one of the more than 700 teachers nationwide who went through the award process. But he said he thought the announcement of winners would be coming toward the end of October. Plus, he had no idea he would be selected as an honoree.
“I was totally shocked,” he said. “No idea that walking out here I was going to get bombarded by all the hoopla. It was great, but I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. What’s going on?’”
The moment Evergreen High School teacher Bill Culver was surprised this morning. Harbor Freights Tools for Schools named Culver a grand prize winner for teaching. Culver was awarded $100,000 to be used by skilled trade programs at Evergreen.@evergreenps pic.twitter.com/NjvZVWYqv5— Paul Valencia (@ValenciaCCT) October 4, 2022
In all, 20 high school skilled trade teachers, from 15 states, were awarded a total of $1.25 million. Culver was a grand prize winner for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
Interestingly, another grand prize winner is from Southwest Washington, too. While Evergreen was celebrating Culver, Cory Torppa was being recognized as a grand prize winner at Kalama High School.
Culver said the $100,000 will go toward new tools for the new skilled trade center that is being built on the campus of Evergreen High School. The hope is students and teachers will be using the new center — to construct tiny homes — in January.
The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools, and to honor teachers who inspire students to learn skills to prepare for life after graduation.
Culver said that while pursuing a four-year college degree is a worthy goal, it is not for everyone. He is proud to work at Evergreen, he said, because the school offers so much for so many.
“We are trying to provide options for kids. This is a comprehensive high school. You have kids who are going in a variety of paths once they leave these doors. We want to make sure they are best prepared for whatever that is,” Culver said.
One of the reasons Culver was selected as a grand prize winner for teaching excellence was his Geometry in Construction course, combining the trade with a core math credit. The class incorporates design, modeling, testing, construction, and self-reflection, empowering students to transfer their learning from cerebral to practical, according to a press release from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.
“In the geometry in construction program, we want to show them how this math is relevant, how it is relevant in the construction industry,” Culver said.
John Boyd, the superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools, Danny Orantia, the principal of Evergreen High School, as well as representatives from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools were on hand for the ceremony.
In the audience were the band, the cheer squad, as well as dozens of Culver’s students. His wife Linda was in the crowd, too. She knew of the surprise. They all erupted in cheers when Culver took the stage.
Culver has been teaching for 40 years, including the last 22 at Evergreen High School.
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