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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor: Are you with me now? 1.29.21

"These are road rules and unwritten rules. The rules and ways of knowing, you get through a sense and feel, a strong commitment and lasting relationships."

When Charlie and I presented to the Harbor Freight Fellows Tools for Schools Foundation, they remarked about the amount and diversity of student presence on our website. Isary has done great work in a short time making all of our websites reflect who we are.

Charlie and I had a great session with Harbor Freight Fellow Zatara Nepomuceno. Once again, the voice and language of our Fellows is so strong and powerful because they are experiencing what they are talking about. As Yogi Berra once said, “In theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is.” Going from concrete to abstract - practice to theory is something schools have left behind some time ago. When students say “I’m lost” in class on what got presented to them in the abstract, they really mean it.

Along with their incredible mentors with teachers supportive of HFFI, Harbor Freight Fellows are getting something that schools just haven’t delivered at scale – practical experience. Zatara spoke at length about how his mentor and being in the workplace is so different than being at school. Out in the world, the stakes are high. The work is real. He remarked that many times, how schools teach procedures is very different than how you do them outside of school. There are different rules and tricks. These are road rules and unwritten rules. The rules and ways of knowing, you get through a sense and feel, a strong commitment and lasting relationships.

As far as Zatara’s relationship with his mentor, it is one where they do things outside the realm of the workplace and includes the kinds of things that welders and boilermakers would love to do in their spare time. Also, it was interesting and great to hear that Zatara’s famiy is involved in his decisions to move forward in the trades. They encourage him to get his Associates Degree at the community college in the trades. This is our way of getting to the change where a workplace becomes the school and everyone is always learning. The conversation with Zatara was taped. It will be edited and put up on HFFI website. One more thing, Zatara told us that he used the money from his Harbor Freight Fellowship to go out and purchase welding equipment. He’s all in.

Finally, checkout this program on the Newshour. It is sad to hear that this is news. We and others have been saying there is a skilled labor shortage attached to six figure work in the trades for decades. We are selling so many students short on where to go and who they are in ways that both schools and society should make them feel great about their choices but they don’t.

That said, it is a great segment to move the public.


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