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South Valley Journal

Jordan Academy welding instructor awarded $50,000

Nov 03, 2022 02:56PM ● By Peri Kinder

Jason Dimitt (right) from Harbor Freight Tools surprises welding instructor Blair Jensen at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers in Riverton with a $50,000 prize for teaching excellence. (Courtesy of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools)

Blair Jensen had to know something was up when he walked into the commons area at Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers (12723 S. Park Ave.). He was greeted by applause, balloons, cheerleaders, school officials and the entire student body, who had come to celebrate Jensen receiving the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools prize.

The surprise ceremony was a chance to recognize Jensen, who teaches welding at the school. He was one of only 20 skilled trades teachers nationwide who received the award on Oct. 4. 

“I’m honored to be here representing Harbor Freight’s Tools for Schools, to give a huge congratulations to Blair Jensen for being one of 20 winners of this year’s Harbor Freight Tools for Schools prize for teaching excellence,” said Jason Dimitt, Harbor Freight Tools district manager. “This is no small achievement. Harbor Freight Tools received over 750 applications from talented, skilled trade teachers from all over the country. Mr. Jensen’s application went through many judging experts in education, industry and civic leadership.”

Dimitt presented Jensen with a $50,000 check and a Harbor Freight tool cart. The prize was part of $1.25 million presented to trade teachers across the country. Jensen’s skilled trades program will receive $35,000 and he gets to keep $15,000. 

Jensen was a finalist for the 2019 and the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, but finally earned the award this year. His parents, sister, nieces, nephews and other friends and family were on-hand to celebrate with him.

“This is awesome and it’s proof to you guys that hard work pays off. I’ve been applying for this award for four years now,” Jensen said. “It’s all about persistence. You can get what you want as long as you apply yourself to it. If you dream it and focus on it and fight for it, you can achieve it.”

Jensen has taught welding at Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers for the past four years. He helps students build skills to help them in future careers by modeling his class like an active shop. Students have to clock in and out each day and Jensen assigns a task each week with an associated hourly wage. Leadership positions come with higher salary and students pay a shop rent for their participation grade. Last year, Jensen was named Teacher of the Year by the Jordan Education Foundation. 

“We are so excited and so happy to get this award,” said Sonja Burton-Juarez, Jordan Academy principal. “He’s so deserving. I’ve known Blair for so many years and let me tell you, he is a champion for students. He wants everything for his students. He teaches them career skills that will better their lives in welding and other trade professions.”

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 to recognize outstanding skilled trades teachers in U.S. public high schools. This year’s contest drew a record 768 applications from across the county. The field was narrowed to 50 finalists with 20 winners. The remaining 30 finalists each received a $1,000 gift card from Harbor Freight Tools. For more information, visit HarborFreightToolsForSchools.org.

“The most rewarding thing for me is celebrating students’ successes,” Jensen said. “To see the joy when they finally master the skill is one of my favorite things about this job.” λ