BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Joel Massarello is among six Michigan high school skilled trades teachers in the running for a share of $1 million in cash.
Fifty teachers from across the country were selected as semifinalists in the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to bring light to the careers available in the automotive industry and other CTE programs in Michigan and around the country,” said Massarello, an automotive instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest. “It was an eye-opener for me when I hired into Oakland Schools in 2003 as I was unaware of the opportunities at the technical campuses prior to a co-worker introducing them to me.”
The semifinalists now advance to a second round of competition. Two rounds of judging will narrow the field to 18 finalists – three first-place and 15 second-place winners. Winners will be announced on Oct. 24.
“If I win this award, I would have to give the credit to my supportive boss, Chuck Locklear, the amazing co-workers at Oakland Schools I have had the pleasure to learn from and work with, and my business partners that give generously of their time,” Massarello said. “Oakland Schools has an amazing workforce that puts students’ needs first and I have learned so much from so many talented teachers, administrators, and support staff in the 16 years that I have worked with Oakland Schools.”
His students are an inspiration to him, and many help in major auto repair projects for classmates and others in need.
“This would be a wonderful way to recognize and support the efforts that the students, staff, and many business partners have shown others in their community and the positive example they have been,” he said.
The 18 winners will split $1 million in prizes. First-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. Second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team.
Massarello became an automotive instructor at OSTC-NW in 2003, after several years as a master technician at a Caterpillar equipment dealer. In addition to earning articulated credit and certifications, Massarello’s students receive job interview training from a General Motors lead project engineer. His shop, staffed by his students, provides free auto repair services for the community’s elderly and disabled residents, as well as for low-income families.
The teacher prepares his students to not only fix cars for individuals without the resources to pay for repairs, but also encourages his students to show care and concern for their customers.
“Learning a skill such as fixing a modern automobile is something that builds confidence in our youth,” he said. “This also provides students with opportunities to branch out into endless career options within the automotive industry and our community. Students also learn the value of helping some of their neighbors in need and the importance of using their skills for the good of society.”
OSTC-Northwest students come from Clarkston, Holly, Brandon and Waterford high schools.