SFHS Teacher Wins $100K Prize from Harbor Freight Tools
A Career & Technical Education teacher at South Fork High School received the surprise of a lifetime this morning, having been named one of three national winners of Harbor Freight's "Tools for Schools" Prize for Teaching Excellence.
Ms. Wendy Schepman, who teaches Landscape Operations and Turfgrass Management at South Fork, was surprised at the beginning of the school day with a $100,000 prize - $70,000 to support the school's Career & Technical Education programming and $30,000 for her personal use.
Harbor Freight's Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 to recognize extraordinary public high school skilled trades teachers and programs with a proven track record of dedication and performance.
Ms. Schepman's lessons cover a broad curriculum - she teaches general agriculture and horticulture principles before moving on to design, installation, maintenance and mechanics. Her work comes to life thanks to a unique learning environment - rather than a shop with four walls, her classroom spans 75 acres and includes a three-hole golf course, a workshop, an equipment barn, a nursery and an orchard. In a county with more than 160 golf courses, Ms. Schepman ensures her students develop the skills necessary to find career opportunities close to home. Students can earn up to 18 dual-enrollment college credits through their participation in the Landscape Operations program.
“My students often tell me that my class is the only reason they came [to school] that day,” Ms. Schepman shares. “If I make my class interesting enough that they never want to miss a day, they will subsequently end up going to more of their other classes such as English or math, which are needed to graduate.”
Schepman, who grew up on her family’s small farm and was the only woman in her college’s turfgrass science major, took over for her own former trades teacher at South Fork when he retired. Her lifetime of experience in and near Stuart has helped her develop close industry and alumni networks to benefit her students.
“This is why I love teaching agriculture,” she says. “I can incorporate all of my favorite things into one class and still be outside all day.”
To view video footage of this morning's surprise announcement, please click here.
To learn more about the numerous Career & Technical Education programs available to students in the Martin County School District, please click here.