Riverton High teacher wins $50,000 for his automotive classes

Oct 3, 2023, 2:00 PM

Image of Riverton High teacher Jay Hales, who won $50K from Harbor Freight for his automotive class...

Riverton High teacher Jay Hales stands with a $50,000 check awarded to the school by Harbor Freight. (Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

RIVERTON, Utah — Jay Hales went to work Tuesday morning thinking it was business as usual. But it turned into one of the biggest mornings of his 25-year career. He teaches Automotive and Small Engine Repair at Riverton High School.

Hales’ co-workers called him out of class and escorted him to the school’s main entryway. Members of the school’s marching band and cheerleading team greeted him. So did a massive $50,000 check from Harbor Freight.

“I was kind of in shock to see what was happening, I didn’t know,” Hales said. “I was very surprised.”

Hales applied through Harbor Freight’s “Tools for Schools” program. The company said the program strives to promote awareness and invest in skill trade education. Brandon Baiza, a District Manager for Harbor Freight in Utah told KSL Newsradio more than 1,000 teachers around the country applied for the reward. Only 25 won.

“It’s obviously so important to give back to future generations that will be working with their hands,” Baiza said.

Hales has actually applied for this reward three times and was a finalist on previous attempts.

“It’s hard .. it’s the third time I applied,” Hales said. “To be selected is a great honor.”

Hales already has plans for the prize money. He said he wants to buy more equipment for students who work on car brakes, and three more small engines for the kids to work on.

“I’m happy, that’s about all I can say,” Hales said.

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Riverton High teacher wins $50,000 for his automotive classes