Coley Hanes, who teaches agriculture construction and small engines at Schuyler R-1 Schools in Queen City and Brent Trankler, who teaches welding at Sikeston Career and Technology Center (SCTC) in Sikeston are among 50 teachers and teacher teams who were named as semifinalists for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. They and their skilled trades programs are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards.

Hanes and Trankler were chosen by an independent panel of judges from among a field of 749 skilled trades teachers who applied for the prize. Per a press release from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, the semifinalists—some competing as individuals and some as teacher teams—hail from 26 states and specialize in trades including manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive and agriculture mechanics.

According to the release from Harbor Freight, “a love of agriculture runs deep for Coley Hanes, who grew up on a diversified family farm in southern Iowa before becoming a teacher at Schuyler R-1 Schools. A third-year educator, Hanes emphasizes student-driven, project-based learning in his classroom, which incorporates electrification, plumbing, engine mechanics and welding. His students have a record of success, passing certifications, pursuing technical college degrees and starting well-paying careers, crucial in Schuyler County, where average income is well below the poverty line. Before becoming a trades teacher, Hanes taught middle school social studies. He has also served as a groundskeeper at Truman State University and a seasonal employee of Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources, where he created hiking trails across the state.”

“Brent Trankler, a U.S. Army veteran, has taught welding at SCTC since 2009. A model of lifelong learning for his students, Trankler has earned two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees, along with becoming a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) Welding Technology Subject Matter Expert. Trankler boosts his students’ confidence and pushes their limits by taking on large projects and allowing them to experiment, problem-solve and learn from mistakes. Each year, his students volunteer to help approximately 250 Boy Scouts earn their welding and metal works badges. Upon graduation, almost all Trankler’s students pursue post-secondary education or receive job offers from businesses like Manac—the largest manufacturer of custom-built and specialty semitrailers in North America. Trankler was a semifinalist for the 2018 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.”

Please join us in congratulating both Coley and Brent! “Semifinalists will now advance to a second round of competition where two rounds of judging will narrow the field to 18 finalists,” splitting $1 million in prizes. Winners will be announced on October 24.