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Riverton teacher awarded $50,000 national teaching prize for welding

Man holding an active welding torch
Russ Ward

A teacher in Riverton was awarded the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, a $50,000 national teaching prize.

Blair Jensen, a welding teacher at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, was surprised with the award on Tuesday morning when he was called out of class. Jensen was met by the school’s drumline, cheerleaders, and student body to congratulate him for the achievement.

Jensen was named one of the 20 nationwide winners of the award, a prize created to honor outstanding teachers in skilled trades throughout several high schools across the United States. 768 applications for the award were received across the country but only a select few were chosen.

Jensen won the award after modeling his classroom after an active welding shop, tasking students with projects that correlate to what it’s like earning an hourly wage that can be used for “shop rent” in the classroom. Jensen’s style of teaching allows students to achieve “higher pay” should they perform more demanding work.

Jason Dimitt, Harbor Freight Tools district manager, says that Jensen supports his students and helps them grow to not only become skilled in their trade, but helps them grow as individuals and also helps them become successful in life. Prize organizers say that over half of Jensen’s students within the past year have begun working in the welding industry.

Jensen says that skilled trades are dying industries and that they’re the backbone of America. He says that welding is an incredible part of someone’s life that often gets taken for granted, as it’s everywhere around us.

Jensen will receive $15,000 of the prize and the remaining $35,000 will go to the school’s trades program.

Jared Gereau is pursuing a Journalism major with an emphasis in Social Media at Utah State University. He is planning on using his experience to pursue a career with USU Athletics sometime after he graduates. In his free time, Jared enjoys watching movies, playing games and creating content for his YouTube channel.