Hancock Central High and trades teacher win $50,000 “Teaching Excellence” award

HANCOCK – Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has awarded Hancock Central High School’s Industrial Arts Department and its teacher, Gary Mishica, a total of $50,000 for teaching excellence. Mishica was surprised with a presentation of the award at a ceremony at the school earlier today.

Over 600 applications from 48 states were submitted to Harbor Freight, 50 of which were recently announced as finalists, including Hancock. Mishica’s application was chosen as one of only 18 winners nationwide, surviving three rounds of judging by a panel of independent experts. Of the $50,000 won, the Hancock Industrial Arts Department will receive $35,000 and Mishica will be personally awarded $15,000.

Prior to winning the award, Mishica had said the reason he spent over 50 hours to fill out the questions in the application was because “I knew we had a good shot. I feel we have a program that is successful at preparing our kids for the trades.” Mishica made sure to point out he has wonderful volunteers who help raise the bar for the program. “We teach 16 different trades to our high school kids and I don’t do that alone. I have three guys who are retired that are here every single day instructing with me.”

Gary Mishica has been teaching the trades at Hancock Public Schools for 35 years, and has been in education for 39 years.

More on Gary Mishica

Gary Mishica’s love of the trades started early when he and his brothers worked with their father to build their family home. Today, Mishica’s students start out learning the basics of safely operating machinery and completing individual projects before advancing to group work and problem-solving using wood and metal, like restoring a 1962 Chevrolet pickup truck, creating copper and steel sculptures, and pursuing school improvement projects. Mishica continues to improve his skills and keep his course up to date by learning from engineering students and professionals in the field. More than half of Mishica’s graduating students continue working in the vocational trades after high school.


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