TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Taylorville Building Trades Instructor Matt Blomquist was honored with the prestigious $50,000 Harbor Freights Tools for Schools Teacher Excellence Award earlier this month.
"$35,000 of that goes to our program that we can spend on our program and then $15,000 of that goes to me as the teacher, which is pretty cool," Blomquist said.
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Blomquist, a carpenter by trade, teaches a class that allows Taylorville students the opportunity to build a house from the ground up. He said students are involved in every phase of the construction.
"You have your foundation work, plumbing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, painting, insulating, framing, roofing, they get their hands on all of it," Blomquist said.
The award money will go a long way for Taylorville Building Trades students. Blomquist said it will help pay for special equipment, tools, field trip opportunities and more.
The program began in 1969 but took a hiatus for a number of years during the 2010s.
In 2019, Blomquist and Taylorville High School rebooted the program.
Historically, the houses are built on plots of land either donated by or bought from members of the community or the City of Taylorville.
Each build takes Blomquist and students roughly three semesters to complete. The house currently under construction should be completely finished and ready for sale by early 2023, Blomquist said.
"When we're done building it goes on the market like any house would," Blumquist said. "And then it is open market so people can bid just like they would in any real estate transaction."