"The world is uncertain," he says, noting that some fields, such as manufacturing, are no longer "fallback" options for graduates.

Fertile minds

Geiman says he sees a role in taking students out of their comfort level, and challenging them to see where they fit in a changing world.

"Parents have done a great job of caring for their kids," he says. "There is a great deal of comfort they have, that a generation ago didn't. As a result, there is no pressure for them."

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High school students are also developing their own personal identity, Geiman said, adding that teachers need to foster that and help them develop a positive identity.

That relationship with students was part of the equation in Geiman's being named county Teacher of the Year.

"He has got a lot of enthusiasm for (teaching), and his enthusiasm came out in his interview," said Carey Gaddis, supervisor of community and media relations for Carroll County Public Schools.

For the county award, more than 200 nominations were reviewed by a panel created by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce before eight were selected to be submitted to the Board of Education. From those eight, Geiman was selected.

"They were judged on their professional biography, their philosophy of teaching, their letters of support and recommendation, and their interview," Gaddis said.

Geiman's resume didn't hurt: He has led several curriculum teams writing and revising the county's Agricultural Education and Technology Education guides.

He's also led workshops on ag education and related topics at countywide professional development events. And, as a seven-year member of the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association executive board, he's been involved in statewide efforts to improve agriculture in Maryland.

Geiman is also the nation's first master teacher for the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education, a program of the National Council for Agricultural Education.

Statewide attention

Twenty-four districts submitted their applicants for Maryland Teacher of the Year. After an interview, that number was dwindled down to eight, and Geiman is still in the running.

Having a Carroll County teacher in the running for the statewide honor is a feather in the cap of the county school system.

"I'm really excited. He represents Carroll County well," said Gaddis. "He's a wonderful guy, and we wish him well."

"We are really proud of this program in Maryland," said Dr. Darla Strouse, director of the Maryland Teacher of the Year program. "It's really an opportunity to put a spotlight on outstanding teachers; people who are dedicated to helping our students grow."

If selected as Maryland Teacher of the Year, Geiman will be invited to speak at events throughout the state, and would win almost $100,000 in prizes and opportunities — including a new car. He would then compete for National Teacher of the Year.

Last year, a teacher in Frederick County, Michelle Schearer, was named both the Maryland and National Teacher of the Year.

"I don't think we would have a better candidate to represent us," Weaver said of Geiman. "He is so far ahead of the curve. I can't say enough good things."

Geiman was scheduled for a final screening interview with judges on Sept. 24. He'll attend the Oct. 14 awards ceremony with other finalists.

Win or lose, Geiman said the focus that earned him the county award — student growth — will stay with him.

"I enjoy working with students," Geiman said. "I see myself remaining a teacher. I like interacting with them. I really like teaching."