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San Antonio auto repair teacher snags $35,000 for John Jay High School trades program 

click to enlarge John Jay High School auto tech teacher John Gunderson was a finalist of the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. - COURTESY PHOTO / HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS FOR SCHOOLS
  • Courtesy Photo / Harbor Freight Tools for Schools
  • John Jay High School auto tech teacher John Gunderson was a finalist of the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
San Antonio's John Gunderson has been named a winner of the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes educators who excel in teaching skilled trades in public high schools.

By grabbing that recognition, Gunderson has won $35,000 for the John Jay High School auto tech program plus $15,000 for himself. He's one of 15 prize winners in the contest. Additionally, the company selected three grand prize winners, each of whom won $100,000 for their school.



The annual contest was launched in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight, to recognize outstanding instruction in the high school trades programs.

Gunderson is a master technician and 16-year teaching veteran. His students operate a live auto repair shop and start with trainer units before progressing to actual parts and vehicles.

His program's projects include working on customer vehicles, sourcing their own parts, explaining repairs to customers and running diagnostics.

Gunderson is certified for four dual-credit courses and his program produces 50-60 certifications per year — 40% more than the average for other automotive programs in the Northside Independent School District.

The 2021 contest drew more than 700 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership.

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