(MOMUMENT, Colo.) — A high school teacher in Monument was recognized by receiving $50,000 to be split for him and his class at Lewis-Palmer High School, on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Andrew Vrieze teaches carpentry, industrial design, and construction at Lewis-Palmer High School. He is one of the 25 winners of the 2023 Habor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. The school will receive $35,000 and Vrieze will receive $15,000.

Courtesy: Photojournalist Jeff Zide

Vrieze started teaching after seeing a need for qualified and skilled trades workers. When his program began, it was entirely funded by the local community through donations and partnerships. Since 2017, enrollment in his classes has grown from 30 students to 200 students, according to Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

I believe that the trades are making a comeback. The pendulum swung away from all this stuff years ago, and now the average tradesperson is 56 years old in our country, and we need to get the trades back.

Andrew Vrieze

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools says it is awarding 1 and a half million dollars in prizes to skilled trades teachers nationwide, including two other Colorado teachers.