$50,000 surprise for Nashwauk-Keewatin shops teacher Joe Gabardi

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It was an awesome assembly on Tuesday morning at the Nashwauk-Keewatin High School.

Joe Gabardi found out he won a $50,000 grant from Harbor Freight for his shops classes.

“I was clueless,” he laughed. “I thought we were there for a texting and driving assembly.”

Instead, the whole school cheered him on, for the grant and the brand new tool cart from Harbor Freight.

The company representative said the Tools for Schools program is a very competitive process, with 1000 applicants in the beginning.

“I was shocked just to get to the 50 finalists,” Gabardi said. “I’m still shocked.”

The money will be invested back into the shops programs.

“We are working on converting a Pontiac Fiero into an electric car. We need about $12,000 more to finish it. And I joked with the kids that if we win the money, we will get this thing on the road. So we’ll be making a list to do that,” he shared.

He’s seeing larger class sizes, which is a complete 180 from where shops classes were when he started.

“All across Minnesota and the nation, shops programs are rebuilding,” he said.

His dad, Joe Gabardi, Senior, was so proud to be there to see the surprise. “I was a shop teacher for 34 years. I started this program. When I retired, my son applied for the position. He took it over, and has taken it right to the top. I’m so proud. It’s unbelievable.”