Northside ISD teacher wins $50,000 prize for excellence in skilled trade education

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A Jay High School teacher was awarded a $50,00 prize — $15,000 for himself and $35,000 for his school program — for excellence in teaching skilled trades.

John Gunderson is the automotive technology teacher at Jay High School and has been teaching since 2005. He worked as a master technician for a decade before transitioning to teaching where his students operate a live shop to work on major projects like customer vehicles, parts sourcing, running diagnostics and research in addition to customer service.

“As I work with my students, I get to watch as they develop the skills and knowledge that will make them successful in their fields, but also to become powerful advocates for the trades themselves,” Gunderson said.

Gunderson operates an outreach demo program to allow his students to showcase what they have learned in the community and to build excitement among younger students. He also takes students to career expos and open houses and works to place them in job shadowing programs and internships.

“It shows the community that the trades are not just for people who ‘couldn’t make it in college’ or that the jobs are dead ends,” Gunderson says.

Gunderson is certified to teach four dual-credit courses and is working with a local college to offer an automotive certificate program that follows the industry standard manufacturer’s certification model. The program certifies 50 to 60 students per year and that is 40% more than other automotive programs in his district.

The award comes from Harbor Freight Tools in the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence and Gunderson was one of 15 prize winners. He was also a finalist for the prize in 2020.

“High school skilled trades teachers and their programs are an essential part of addressing the skilled trades worker shortage,’’ said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “These dedicated educators make a huge difference in the lives of young people every day, setting them on a course for a meaningful career and to make a difference in their community.’’

More about: