Cory Torppa

Kalama School District Career & Technical Education (CTE) Director Cory Torppa was recently selected as one of 50 finalists for the 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, which honors excellent teaching in skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools. 

As a finalist, Torppa is now in the running for one of 20 prizes totaling $1.25 million, which will be awarded in October.

“I'm absolutely honored to be selected as a finalist, especially since there were 768 applicants from across the country,” said Torppa. 

If selected as a winner, Torppa plans to use the funds to purchase tools, equipment, training materials and supplies so that Kalama High School students can build a tiny home.  

“I am excited to build a tiny house with our students,” Torppa said. “It would be a large capstone project that could be worked on by multiple courses and programs. For example, our Engineering and Science classes could research how to create an efficient tiny home; Construction students could build it; Manufacturing students could put together the railings and chassis; Woodworking students could create shelving, stairs and cabinetry; Art students could help with the interior/exterior design; and so on.   

“The project would allow me to teach more about the construction trades and better prepare Kalama students to work on their own homes in the future,” he added.  

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a philanthropic program of The Smidt Foundation, which was started by the founder of Harbor Freight Tools, Eric Smidt. Harbor Freight Tools is a discount tool retailer in the United States with more than 1,300 stores and 25,000 associates nationwide.

“We hope you will take this opportunity to join us in recognizing and celebrating Cory (Torppa), his relevant and dynamic teaching, and the talented students who benefit from it,” said Tae Kang, a program manager with Harbor Freight Tools for Students.

To learn more about the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, visit