GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A Gulfport High School teacher was surprised Wednesday with a big award.
Cheers and applause filled the hallway at Gulfport High, all of it for automotive teacher Robert Caylor, as Harbor Freight virtually delivered the news to Caylor that he was the winner of their 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.
“I was not expecting this today. I wouldn’t have dressed like this today, if I, you know, but I’m totally stunned. I’m just so happy about what we’re going to be able to do with this money, it’s just incredible," Caylor said.
Caylor is one of just 18 skilled trades teachers nationwide to win the $50,000 award, beating out more than 600 applicants. Of the $50,000, $35,000 goes to the school’s skilled trades program, and $15,000 goes to Caylor personally.
He already has big plans for the money.
“One of the things we have, right there, that 1970s Mustang. The kids are working on restoring it. That’s going to go a long way toward restoring that. The biggest thing - I have these lifts here to hold the cars, the cables on the lifts have to be changed every five years, and that’s this year, and it’s very expensive to change the cables and that’s going to go a huge way toward doing that," he said.
His students said the award is well-deserved.
“He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to teach really well. He’s been really helpful in guiding us along the way," said senior Matthew Miller.
“This is a great thing. Mr. Caylor is one of those teachers dedicated, and I am happy for him. Not only happy for him but happy for his group of kids also," said Mike Tatum, Gulfport School District assistant superintendent.
Harbor Freight also donated 60 mechanic toolsets to Caylor to give to his virtual learners.