A teacher at Hall County's Lanier College Career Academy (LCCA) has been named a finalist in the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools annual teaching excellence competition.
The company announced a list of 61 finalists this week, naming three Georgia teachers to the list, including Rodney Presley, an HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration) and construction teacher at LCCA.
While running his own HVAC company, Presley saw first-hand the desperate need for highly skilled workers in the trade industry and began teaching to remedy that. Presley’s students have showcased their skills by competing in national SkillsUSA events, building products for sale in the school’s MetalWood design shop and constructing a tiny house. Students also participate in an industry signing day, where they commit to careers in the trades; nine students signed with employers this past year alone. Presley leads a county-wide “Habitat High” program for advanced students in partnership with the local Habitat for Humanity, and he has helped host a Skills Challenge for students with Georgia’s Association of General Contractors.
Other Georgia teachers listed among the finalists are Dave Darden, who teaches automotive service technology courses at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens and Jody Kemp, the leader of the agricultural mechanics curriculum at Peach County High School in Fort Valley.
"The goal of the prize is to highlight some of the most outstanding programs nationwide and to celebrate teachers who are making a big difference in the lives of students,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “Our hope is that the stories of these dedicated teachers will inspire other communities to create similar programs for their own high school students. All high school students who want to learn a skilled trade and have a talent for working with their hands should have the same opportunity.”
The 61 finalists for Harbor Freight's Prize for Teaching Excellence are from 30 states and specialize in trades including advanced manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive and agriculture mechanics. More than $1 million in cash prizes will be shared by 18 teachers and their skilled trades programs. The winners will be announced in late October.