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Carroll County Career and Technology Center teachers named semifinalists for national prize

Welding instructor Mike Schweinsberg helps student William Rhoten in the welding classroom at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster on January 6, 2017.
Welding instructor Mike Schweinsberg helps student William Rhoten in the welding classroom at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster on January 6, 2017. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Two teachers from Carroll County Career and Technology Center are among 50 from across the country who were named semifinalists for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Michael Campanile and Michael Schweinsberg entered the competition as a team, reflecting how the welding and masonry programs often work together on projects.

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Campanile

The 50 were chosen from nearly 750 applicants, according to a news release from Harbor Freight Tools. The first-place prize is $100,000, split 70/30 between the school and the individuals. Second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team.

“We’re definitely going to go forward in full force to see if we can secure this,” Schweinsberg said. “It would be quite an honor if we win.”

The application process was thorough, requiring them to submit examples of their teaching styles and projects, as well as demonstrate their passion towards the program.

Winners of the prizes will be announced Oct. 24. Between now and then, there is a significant amount of work for the instructors to complete in the second round of the applications. They will be asked to give their insights and ideas on teaching the skilled trades and respond to a series of expert-level modules.

Schweinsberg

Competitors will be narrowed to a group of 18 finalists and then finally a first place winner and two second-place winners. Winners will be invited to attend an annual convention to share their expertise in trades education.

Schweinsberg and Campanile have already begun to think of ways they could put the winnings toward projects at the Tech Center, which will undergo a major renovation and addition in the next few years.

“We are very proud of the accomplishments of Mr. Campanile and Mr. Schweinsberg. They are very deserving of this national recognition of their excellent teaching," Career and Technology Center Principal William Eckles said via email. "The Harbor Freight competition highlights the importance of hands-on, relevant learning for students. It is wonderful that our teachers have been recognized as semi-finalists, and I am very excited for the possibility that they may be selected as national winners.”

Patrick Beall of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and FSK senior Sarah Kramer tap the mold for a concrete reef ball at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster as Dan Johannes, left, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and masonry instructor Mike Campanile, right, look on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.
Patrick Beall of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and FSK senior Sarah Kramer tap the mold for a concrete reef ball at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster as Dan Johannes, left, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and masonry instructor Mike Campanile, right, look on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Harbor Freight Tools noted how Campanile and Schweinsberg bring businesses into the classroom to introduce students to local industry and even interview them for jobs.

Campanile is a fifth-generation mason who worked in his father’s construction company as a teen. He enjoys seeing the pride his students experience when they complete a masonry project.

Schweinsberg began his welding career as a farmhand after graduating from CCCTC himself. He brings his class to life by operating the program like a business, getting students to work with equipment, blueprints and materials, just as they would on a job.

Since 2017, the The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence has recognized outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation, according to a news release from the company.

“We never cease to be amazed by the talent, creativity and resourcefulness of skilled trades educators,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools said in a news release. “This year’s semifinalists teach more than a dozen trades and have spent a collective 800 years in the classroom — teaching our students critical skills that our country needs — and we couldn’t be more excited to honor their work.”

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