Topeka, Kan. – When asked why he teaches technical education, David Praiswater looks to the future.

     “I teach technical education because it’s relevant to the future success of my students. My goal is to impact the construction workforce by sending qualified and knowledgeable graduates to the industry through education and training. I am looking to fill the void that will be left when workers decide to retire or do not return after the construction slowdown. For my graduates, I want them to know the same kind of job security that generations experienced in the past. Like a valued member of my advisory committee says, “You can’t outsource construction.”

     After years of service, Praiswater, a carpentry instructor at Washburn Tech, will be honored with the prestigious Outstanding Career and Technical Educator award during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference recognition session on June 22 in Atlanta, Ga.

     One of SkillsUSA’s highest recognitions, the Educator of the Year is awarded for outstanding individuals who guide SkillsUSA members to becoming leaders in their chosen fields. Not awarded regularly, it is given only when the SkillsUSA board of directors wants to honor an exceptional educator for his or her service and dedication to career and technical education and SkillsUSA.

     Praiswater has dedicated 17 years at Washburn Tech to supporting career and technical education and SkillsUSA at the local, state and national levels.

     At the local level, the SkillsUSA chapter at Washburn Tech grew to more than 400 members by incorporating both middle school and high school training to his program. Since 2008, students have competed in 1,505 total contests, earning a total of 695 medals, 18 of which were earned at the national conference. Under Praiswater’s leadership, 29 students from Washburn Tech have served as state officers and one national officer.

     Serving on the SkillsUSA Kansas board of directors for six years, Praiswater collaborated with many business and industry partners to become corporate sponsors of SkillsUSA. Always looking for ways to enhance his program with the latest trends in the industry, each semester his program constructs a building from the ground up and then tears it down, preserving the materials to be used again. Each class is scored by their teamworking efforts, efficiency, customer service and strategy implementation.

     Praiswater also brings in experts from the field to talk with his classes and takes them on tours of construction sites so students can watch experts in action. He advocates for continuing technical education to legislators at the state capitol and works with industry partners within the community to be make sure he is teaching the latest technology in his classroom.

     “David is a SkillsUSA champion with a true passion for helping students develop their talents and leadership,” said Chelle Travis, executive director of SkillsUSA. “His dedication to SkillsUSA and to career and technical education is inspiring.”


Lori Hutchinson, 785.670.2199

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