Gulfport High teacher wins Harbor Freight Tools for Schools prize


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.

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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.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....