KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV) – What would you do with $50,000? Kaukauna High School technology education teacher Dan Van Boxtel spent it on equipment for his students.
“They shocked the heck out of me,” he said.
Last year, he entered the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Teacher of Excellence Award, one of 800 applicants. The application took 40 hours to complete, to explain why you have a great mechanical education program and could use some financial help.
“It’s quite an extended application process,” he said. “Sometimes you gotta go a long way to get stuff.”
He was only one of 20 winners. He found out that he won a year ago this week in a surprise ceremony.
“I was able to purchase a new tire balancer, a new tire changer, and a new scanner that we use in all our automotive classes,” he said. “This machine is one of the most up to date in the fact that we can balance a tire really quick with it.”
Van Boxtel is in his 42nd year of teaching and doubles as the JV basketball head coach, but he has no plans to slow down.
“They’re enjoying learning, they’re really getting into the process so that kind of gives you energy to keep you motivated, keep you going,” he said. “I always tell people I’m not going to work, I’m going to school, going to do what I love to do.”
Van Boxtel said that helping students build their confidence is the best part of his job, so that they are ready for their future jobs.
“To me that’s incredible when we can do that, we can really help get kids ready for their next step,” he said. “It’s about kids learning something new, realizing that they can do something that they never thought they could do before, but you showed them they can do it.”