PAINTED POST, N.Y. (WETM) — A local high school automotive teacher from Painted Post was surprised on Tuesday with a check for $50,000 for his school’s automotive program for being a skilled teacher of the trade.

Brian McDonnell was surprised Tuesday morning, Oct. 3, and is one of 25 public high school skilled trades teachers across the country who received an award from the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

The prize program is now in its seventh year and was created to recognize excellent high school trades teachers and the work they do to bolster a frequently overlooked and underappreciated field.

McDonnell is a teacher at GST BOCES Coopers Campus and the funds will be given to the school to better its automotive program

McDonnell knows that his program is changing lives when he teaches, as he wrote in his prize application,

“I know for a fact that our program is changing lives,” he said, “Even if a student does not pursue the collision repair field, they will have gained invaluable knowledge through our program,” he said…”The skills learned can last a lifetime,” he said.

McDonnell adds New York to the list of 16 other states including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.