Turns out there really is a sharpest tool in the shed, and it’s an Escambia County Alabama teacher.

Jason Blackwell, a high school industrial maintenance teacher at Escambia Career Readiness Center in Brewton, is the Harbor Freight Tools For Schools for Teaching Excellence grand prize winner, which carries a $100,000 reward.

Blackwell, whose father was a tradesman, became a teacher in 2012 after a car wreck left him unable to do manual labor. His dad had told him, “If you listen to me, I’ll teach you everything I know.” And he uses the same philosophy in the classroom. Blackwell also matches students with local contractors for summer experience and links graduates with companies hiring entry-level employees.

Blackwell received a giant check for the grand prize, $70,000 of which goes to the school along with a brand new tool cart, while the teacher gets to keep $30,000. There were more than 700 applications from teachers who entered the contest.

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was launched in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools, to recognize outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools.

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