Students lined the halls at Gulfport High School today, offering up several rounds of applause for automotive mechanics teacher Robert Caylor who was named a winner of the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools prize for teaching excellence.
Along with the award comes $50,000, including $35,000 for the school’s skilled trades program and $15,000 for him.
This year has been one of the toughest on record for skilled trades teachers as they switch between in-person, remote, and blended learning all the while trying to do their work of preparing the next generation of trades people.
It’s the third time Caylor applied for the award. He says the money will be a great investment for Gulfport High and his students. “I’m just totally stunned over this. I can’t thank the Eric Smidt Foundation and Harbor Freight enough. It’s going to go so far getting my kids better jobs, putting more tools in their hands. We probably have the best tools of any school in the state, but this is going to put more tools in their hands. I need more.”
Erin Walsh with Harbor Freight Tools said, “It’s a huge accomplishment and huge honor. We had over 600 applications from teachers across the country.”
Gulfport School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Tatum said, “It’s a great honor for the kids. It’s a great honor for the kids, not only for the kids, but also the parents. We have a great program here. Mr. Caylor does a great job. All the teachers do a great job. He’s been a good steward for the community but also to the school.”
The $50,000 prize is part of one million dollars Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is awarding up to 18 trade teachers nationwide.