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Taylorville High School teacher wins national prize

Matt Blomquist
Credit Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence

Taylorville High School building trades teacher Matt Blomquist won a national teaching award Tuesday that came with a $50,000 prize that he will share with his construction program.

The 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence carried a $15,000 award for Blomquist and $35,000 for his program at the high school.

The program 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.

The 2022 prize drew a record 768 applications and included three rounds of judging, each by a panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership.

A release quoted Blomquist: “I believe most of my students would say the most valuable lesson from my class is confidence to try new things and realize they can do a lot more than they realize; after all they didn’t know they could build a house and they did that.”

Blomquist, who was co-owner of a construction company, recently won Outstanding Teacher of the Year from Taylorville Community Unit School District 3 and was a finalist in the 2021 Harbor Freight prize.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
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