And the winner is: Hollington Lee

And the winner is: Hollington Lee

Science teacher Hollington Lee points out anatomical structures of the human skull to his students.

Ben Taylor, Sports Editor

LHS science teacher Hollington Lee was awarded the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching award on March 9.

“When the administration came in I was really surprised, but it felt great to win it,” said Lee. “I was nominated in past years, but I was surprised to win this year.”

Mr. Lee is not only a great teacher in the classroom, he’s also a helpful resource to other teachers.

“I think I won this because of my work in the classroom with students,” Lee explained, “and my eagerness to share with colleagues.”

Mr. Lee, who has been teaching for 20 years, uses many teaching tools throughout the day. He uses Powerpoint presentations so it’s easier for his students to take notes. He also uses models so his students can experience learning hands-on. For example, during his anatomy class he passed around a human skull so students could feel how the jaw worked and get a better sense of its many anatomical features.

“By making it fun for my students, I make it fun for myself. It helps me connect with them more,” says Lee.

Mr. Lee likes to give his students freedom to work independently at their lab tables because he trusts they will do what they are supposed to do. He allows students to discuss problems with their peers and help each other learn. He has students read a book each term outside of class that deals with anatomy. These are called “Reading Responses” and every Friday students have to submit responses that answer a specific question about some aspect of the book. Students have the freedom to choose the book they want from his selection of books for that term.

“Right now I’m reading a book about Lyme disease,” said senior Shayla Costa. “The books are fascinating but it’s a hassle sometimes. We have to answer a Reading Response question each week. This year I’ve read two Mary Roach books, Stiff and Gulp, that were really interesting. They were fun to read. The Reading Responses definitely opened up my book choices and I never would have considered reading a book about dead people but I’m glad I did.”

Mr. Lee is forever finding new and exciting TED Talks, podcasts, or other resources on the web to make learning more interesting. He also plays graphic videos.

“I saw somebody give birth,” said Costa. “We’ve also seen people having various surgeries.”

While sometimes students say the videos can be too much (“I had to leave the class last week watching a video about a boy with a new head,” said Costa), students are always learning.

“He knows what he is teaching and always helps us with any problems we have and he makes the class fun to be in,” said senior Kelsey Jordan.

According to students, every other Friday, Lee reads a true but unusual medical story to the class. For example, there’s the story about a woman who lost a thermometer in her urethra, or the one about the girl who swallowed her toothbrush. One guy had maggots thriving in his scalp. These stories keep the students enthralled and makes the subject material relevant.

In addition to the stories, Lee also teaches his students a vocab word every day in preparation for tests such as the SAT’s. On Fridays, however, he changes it up by teaching students three unusual words or even phobias. Do you know what “jementous” means?

He keeps the class interesting at all times and will show his students models that will show them what he is talking about. Lee is always keeping his students on task and yet still jokes around a lot. Even when he is joking and has conversations with his students, it is only for a few minutes before he gets them on task again.

Lee went to Northeastern University for his undergraduate degree and to Harvard University for graduate school. However, he also seeks out professional development opportunities such as the three weeks he spent last summer at the Western MA. writing project.

“I will continue to learn more in my content area through my own research and taking classes to learn more about teaching effective strategies,” says Lee. “I try to make the class relevant to them and when you’re talking about the body it is relevant to everybody. I like to talk about when they’re sick and what happens in your body when you are sick [to make it more relatable].”

Lee makes it fun for students, no matter what grade they are in.

“He’s very funny and I’m always learning because he makes you learn and doesn’t give you any word banks on the tests or quizzes so we have to learn or we will fail,” said junior David Modzelewski.

The courses this year that Lee teaches are Honors Biology and Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology.

The winners of the award receive dinner at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, a plaque with their names on it, vouchers towards classes at local colleges, a three-month membership to the YMCA and a check.