Jake Hollin brings into his history class artifacts that he acquired while he was a member of the Peace Corps.
"I give them something to start with, then I let them explore," said Hollin, who has taught at John Carroll School in Bel Air for four years.
Once he had the students create a resume for Caesar Augustus and post it at Monster.com, a popular job site.
"I try to instill a love of history in my students," said Hollin, 32, of Fallston. "I try to be creative in my teaching methods."
Hollin was acknowledged for his efforts when the students selected him as John Carroll's 2006 Teacher of the Year.
The distinction was presented to Hollin, who teaches U.S. government and world history, at the senior awards ceremony recently.
"I was very honored and found it humbling to receive the award when I work in a school with so many great teachers," said Hollin, a 1992 graduate of the school.
Hollin, who earned a bachelor's degree from Florida State and a master's from George Washington University, had six years of teaching experience when he came to John Carroll. He is the school's wrestling coach, head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and chair of the history department.
But during his four years teaching at John Carroll, Hollin says instilling an appreciation of history, mentoring students and sharing his faith are the things he enjoys most.
"I enjoy building relationships with the students and sending them in the right direction," Hollin said. "Sometimes all a student needs is to see my passion for history and for them to develop a passion for history themselves."
Moreover, he said, nothing beats seeing the light bulb go off in a student's head when he or she grasps a complex concept.
"Sometimes understanding it is all a student needs to develop a love for history that they didn't even know they had," Hollin said.
Hollin said he knows how to get his students' attention, but he has had to work on holding it.
"I have to compete with the culture these kids are growing up in," Hollin said. "To do that, my classroom has to be more than just four walls."
More than 200 students gave Hollin a bonus the day after he was named Teacher of the Year.
"I got about 200 cupcakes from students congratulating me," Hollin said. "That was humbling for me."
Other awards presented to graduating seniors:
Black and Gold Award: Caitlin Keilty and Christopher Susio (presented by the Boosters Club to one boy and one girl demonstrating a high level of participation in extra-curricular activities, community service, academics).
Department awards: Kevin Turek, Religious studies; Natalie Vielkind, English; Kristen Lozinak, Spanish; Daniel Morris, French; Ricardo Trujillo, German; Amanda Selvy, Russian; Brenton Andreasik, Latin; Brenton Andreasik, Math; James Kunkel, Science; Chelsea Ford, Physics; Matthew Kent, Social Studies; Anna Hagan, Band; Christina Gunn, Chorus; Virginia Tilghman, Art; Sarah Belkin, Pacificus; Caitlin Keilty, Patriot; Christina Gunn, Pinnacle; Stephen Douglas and Christopher Susio, Theater Arts; Caitlin Keilty and Mike Stetka, Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Scholarship awards: Sean St. Clair and Stephanie Kreis, Gerry Gray Memorial; Anne Sedney, Michael B. Brady White Cap; Lisa Floyd, Frohn Family Scholarship; and Jennifer DiBiagio and Matt Kent, Boosters Blue Ribbon Scholarship.
Senior Awards: Meaghan Hinder and Adam Devine, School Spirit; Chelsea Ford and Kevin Turek, Academic Athletic Award; and Natalie Vielkind and Daniel Morris, John Carroll Faculty Award.
Student Affairs Council awards: Christopher Susio, Amanda Selvy, Matt Kent, Caitlin Keilty Kyle Hanratty and Adam Devine.
Leadership award: Caitlin Keilty and Adam Devine.
Unsung Hero award: Amanda Selvy.
John Carroll will hold its baccalaureate and graduation at 9 a.m. today at the school.
Top of the class
Name: Brenton Andreasik
College plan to attend: Loyola College
Career aspirations: Doctor
Favorite subject: Biology
Least favorite subject: Physics
Biggest issue teens face: Time management. Teens today are pulled in many directions at once.
Advice for incoming freshmen: Be open to new experiences.
One trait that is key to becoming a valedictorian: Dedication.
Last CD purchased: In your Honor, by Foo Fighters
Last movie seen: The Chronicles of Narnia
Last book purchased: The Divine Comedy, by Dante
Favorite pastime: Listening to music.
Name: Natalie Vielkind
Hometown: Forest Hill
College plan to attend: University of Pennsylvania
Career aspirations: Editing or publishing
Favorite subject: English
Least favorite subject: History
Biggest issue teens face: Trying to be themselves, when their parents, friends and the media tell them to do otherwise.
Advice for incoming freshmen: Work hard but balance your hard work with things you enjoy.
One trait that is key to becoming a valedictorian: Determination
Last CD purchased: All the Stars and Boulevards, by Augustana
Last movie seen: Walk the Line
Last book purchased: The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
Favorite pastime: Reading