Harvard High School’s manufacturing teacher, Stephen Glasder, has won second place in the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, earning the high school skilled trades program $35,000.
Stephen Glasder, who teaches manufacturing at Harvard High School was surprised in the high school’s South Gym by Brian Cohen, division vice president – east of Harbor Freight, with the news that he and his school will receive $50,000—$35,000 for the school’s skilled trades program and $15,000 for him personally.
Under his leadership, Glasder has brought industry-level Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines into the high school to prepare students for in-demand occupations. He also partnered with Scot Forge to create apprenticeship programs for students.
Senior Jennah Brookner created the website www.harvardhighschoolmanufacturing.org which features Harvard High School’s manufacturing classes.
In 2018, the Harvard Community Education Foundation awarded Glasder a Mega-Grant for the purchase of CNC machines and training.
For 40 years, Glasder has taught industrial technology, including spending the past eight years serving the students of Harvard High, where Glasder also coaches football and wrestling.
Growing up, Glasder was the oldest of seven children and the son of an auto mechanic. After earning his associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Glasder decided to follow in the footsteps of the skilled trades teachers he admired in school.
Students in Glasder’s class begin working with their hands on the first day, making chips with a machine that cuts metal, and that requires them to apply drafting and math lessons. The learn to read precision instruments to an accuracy of 0.001 inch before moving on to master their skills on one of the shop’s two computer numerical control machines.
To keep students engaged, Glasder strives to connect with them on a personal level.
“This is the starting point in creating a culture in which all students feel welcome, safe, and trust who you are as a person and teacher,” Glasder said.
Glasder’s program prepares students for manufacturing careers by requiring them to take drafting before progressing through a sequence of computer-aided design, metals, welding, and manufacturing courses, many of them dual articulated with a local college.
Glasder’s students go on to compete against high schools across Illinois—five placed first, second or third out of 600 entries in the 2018 TMA Precision Machining Competition—and pursue internships with local businesses, creating hundreds of parts for local manufacturers. The goal, Glasder said, is to help students understand that they are the best of the best.
“The point that I try to make with our students,” he said, “is, ‘You are as good or better than anyone else in the state of Illinois.’ You are employable anywhere that you might want to work.”
“Skilled trades educators are crucial to helping students stay engaged and motivated in high school,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These amazing teachers connect students to promising careers, show them how to apply academics to the real world and help them feel pride and accomplishment—something they might not experience in all their classes. We make these awards because we believe in these teachers, we believe in these students, and we believe this vital sector deserves more support and investment.”
The Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt to recognize extraordinary public high school skilled trades teachers and programs. Prizes are awarded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of The Smidt Foundation.
“All of our roads and bridges, our schools and homes, and our planes and automobiles are built and are maintained by tradespeople,” Smidt said. “It is our dedicated skilled trades teachers, who inspire students to pursue these meaningful careers, that allow our economy to thrive and make so much of what we depend on possible. We are deeply honored to be able to shine a light on these extraordinary teachers today.”
The 2019 prize drew nearly 750 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by a separate independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy, and civic leadership. The field was narrowed this summer to 50 semifinalists. The application process, which included responses to questions and a series of online video learning modules, was designed to solicit each teacher’s experience, insights and creative ideas about their approach to teaching and success in helping their students achieve excellence in the skilled trades. All learning modules are available here.
For a list of the other 14 second-place winners and a list of the semifinalists, click here.