Robb recognized as teacher of the year

Staff reporter

He's a giant of a man, standing well over six feet, and a giant in the teaching profession.

For more than 30 years, Jim Robb has been teaching. For the past 14 years, he has been teaching social studies, American government, and American history at Hillsboro High School.

Now he is among the elite, being named Kansas Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Council for the Social Studies.

"It was a no-brainer that he was chosen," HHS Principal Dale Honeck said.

Honeck explained that the criteria for the award had to do with the person's ability to teach and communicate with students, be a service to the profession, and exhibit school leadership.

"It's gratifying yet humbling because there are a lot of teachers who do what I do," Robb said.

Robb has the opportunity to influence nearly every HHS student because his classes are required for graduation.

How does a teacher continue to make classes interesting?

"I do each class differently every year," Robb said. "I read a lot and try to find different ways to present the information."

What's the secret to being an interesting teacher?

"There has to be an emotional 'hook' for kids to be involved," Robb said. So, he tells stories to keep students interested and engaged. Class projects allow students to follow their curiosities.

Besides the traditional lecturing and testing, students also do research and simulation projects.

"One of the things Mr. Robb does really well is uses analogies and metaphors," Honeck said. "He helps students make a connection between current day and events that have shaped our history."

Honeck said Robb continues to provide a service to his profession through a grant he received a few years ago. Robb is a member of a group that has been studying the case of Brown vs. Topeka board of education regarding desegregation of schools. For the past three years, they have been studying authentic documents associated with the landmark case. The information is then shared with other social studies teachers.

Robb also has been the chairman of the building improvement team, chief negotiator with the school board, and often is a speaker at school assemblies.

Kansas Council for the Social Studies is a statewide organization and is a part of the National Council for the Social Studies.

Kansas' council goals are to have a leadership role in improving the teaching and promoting research of social studies, and promoting professional growth of social studies teachers.

Nominations are reviewed and a recipient is chosen by members. Robb received his award Thursday.

Robb grew up in northeast Kansas and graduated in 1973 from Bethel College, Newton. He and wife Beaty live on Beaty's family farm near Moundridge. Beaty teaches first grade at Newton.

Being honored by his peers is unexpected by Robb and he shares his award with those who helped to make his career at HHS successful.

"This honor should go to the school, students, and people who help me do what I do," Robb said. "It speaks of the achievement of the entire district.

"I couldn't do what I do without the support of others."

Robb is eligible for retirement in a year but doesn't plan to turn in his grade book for good quite yet.

"I'm comfortable here," Robb said, "and I really like the kids."

Honeck said HHS is fortunate to have a teacher of Robb's caliber.

"He's a great teacher and is exceptionally committed to his profession," he said.