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Clark Magnet instructor in running for portion of $1 million prize

Clark Magnet instructor in running for portion of $1 million prize
Clark Magnet High School manufacturing and engineering teacher David Black listens to a plan by one of his students in his classroom on Monday. Black was named one of 52 semifinalists for a Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. (Tim Berger / Glendale News-Press)

Clark Magnet High School instructor David Black has built a dedicated career not only teaching advanced manufacturing and engineering principles but also preparing his students with real-world job experience.

Those efforts weren’t just appreciated by his pupils but caught the attention of officials at Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, which placed the Clark Magnet alumnus in the running for part of a $1-million award.

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The Calabasas-based organization named Black one of 52 semifinalists nationwide for the 2018 Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

“These semifinalists represent amazing depth and breadth in high school skilled-trades education, and they exhibit incredible enthusiasm for teaching students to work with their hands, to love learning and be prepared for the future,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, in a statement.

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“We are thrilled to recognize their exceptional teaching and to raise the profile of their excellent work through these awards,” he added.

Black was lauded by Harbor Freight for teaching his students “to work with their hands and heads to use state-of-the-art equipment.”

The recognition was humbling for Black.

“I believe there was something like 550 applications across the country, so this does really mean a lot to me,” Black said. “It’s a nice distinction, and I think it represents the high-quality program that we’ve worked to build over the last several years here at Clark.”

Black said he takes pride in his efforts as lead mentor for Team 696, Clark Magnet’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, robotics team. He’s also excited about the work his students have done in advanced Computer Numerical Control machining and manufacturing.

“The machining program is getting students prepared for many industries and careers like advanced manufacturing, aerospace and medical manufacturing, which is big in Southern California,” Black said.

Black’s current project is to earn his manufacturing and metalworking program accreditation from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills.

As for the prize, Black has two more rounds to go through until Nov. 15 when the field of 52 will be narrowed to three first-place winners and 15 second-place awardees.

First-place recognition will be accompanied by a $100,000 prize, with $70,000 going toward a respective school or institute and $30,000 heading to a teacher or team. Second-place prizes are each half that amount.

“It would be an incredible opportunity not only for me but the school,” Black said about the possibility of winning. “We really have some great things going on here at Clark, and I think it would really put us on the map and help open the communities’ eyes toward our school.”

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