It's hard to fall asleep in Robert Giuliani's English class.

He paces the aisles of his Laurel High School classroom hurling what's and why's at his students while they read aloud from classic literature, like Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."


"What about when Mercutio says, 'A plague on both your houses' what's he talking about?" Giuliani asks, following up each answer with another question. "Why is he cursing both their houses? Why did he get stabbed? Because of the bickering, which is a result of what?"

"The feud!" the students answer together.

"The feud between the two houses," Giuliani said.

"So many kids will never understand it unless you go over it like that, and you realy explain it to them, and they really appreciate it," Giuliani said.

"He's not like other teachers," said freshman Titilayo Ayodele. "He's not boring."

Giuliani, or "Mr. G" as his students call him, is retiring after 26 years of teaching English, journalism and television production at Laurel High School. He has taught in Prince George's County schools for his entire 40-year career.

"I didn't want to be that guy, that older tourist who's in a tour bus a mile from the mountain looking up at the mountain," said Giuliani. "I wanted to retire while I'm still able to climb that mountain."

Over the past two decades, in addition to teaching dozens of literature classes, Giuliani has led the transformation of Laurel High's newspaper from a four- to six-page handout called "The Tattler," to the 30- to 50-page publication it is today, known as "The Shield." It is distributed to more than 2,000 students at Laurel High School four times a year.

"I'm really proud that students go from a blank page to a finished product," said Giuliani, a West Laurel resident and Prince George's County native. "From coming up with ideas for articles, assigning the articles, gathering the news, writing the stories, to every so often when the paper comes out and they have something tangible in their hands to share with the entire school."

Giuliani's students share their teacher's pride.

"We were able to put our work in something that the whole school can see," said sophomore Mariama Jawara, who was in Giuliani's journalism class this year and in his literature class the previous year.

"He's so young; he doesn't have to leave yet," Jawara said. "Because I don't know what this newspaper would be without him."

The paper has won more than 40 awards and has covered everything from the school's homecoming to global warming to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"It provides a forum for student opinion, which I think is extremely important," Giuliani said. "Students' voices should be heard in high school, because adults should understand the perspective of the students, just like the other way around."


Giuliani started teaching journalism in his first job out of college without having much previous knowledge of the news business. He had interviewed with the principal at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine for a job teaching language arts.

"He said, 'I'm ready to hire you on this condition: We haven't had a school newspaper for over 20 years. You have to sponsor it,'" Giuliani recalled. "I said, 'Sure, I'll try it.'"

Giuliani taught English during the day and he worked with his student newspaper staff after school.

"We actually worked on it using a typewriter," he said. "We would type the columns, then we would cut out the strips and paste them on a layout sheet to take them to the printer."

A year later, Giuliani was given a journalism class.

"I learned a lot of it on my own, by trial and error, but also by taking a lot of classes and workshops," he said. "I was always a reader of the newspaper, so that helped me acquire a journalistic style to pass on to my students."

When Giuliani transferred to Laurel High in 1990, his principal asked him to start up a television production program. Giuliani had taught the subject briefly when he worked at Friendly High School in Fort Washington.

"I said I would do it, as long as I could teach my students that writing is still important for television," he said. "Television cannot exist without good writing."

His TV production students have won several honors at the Prince George's County Public Schools annual film festival. One has produced videos that have been viewed more than 20 million times on the social media video app, Vine.

Giuliani's first love, however, is teaching English.

"Trying to relate literature to their personal experiences, and letting them learn about life through literature — that was one of my keys," Giuliani said.

He said he would miss those "aha!" moments in the classroom when students "really get it."

"You get a lot of constant positive feedback from your students, and you want to keep on doing more of a good job," he said. "But I realize at my age that I still want to work with youth, but I want to do it on my own schedule."

Giuliani will continue coaching baseball at St. Vincent Pallotti High School as he has done for years, he said, and will lead trips for youth through the city of Laurel's recreation department.

"And also, I'll come back and help if they need any help," he said, referring to Laurel High.

That willingness to provide support is what many of Giuliani's students have loved about his teaching, and will miss when he doesn't return next year.

"He helps you out whenever you need it," said sophomore Ariela Ayala Cortez. "If you don't seem like you're in a good mood, he's going to go up to you and ask you, do you want to talk about it. What's wrong? Or if you're falling behind in class, he'll try to help you out."

"I was hoping he was going to be there when I graduated next year," said junior Tina Bui. "Hearing about his retirement, I'm at a loss. I feel like the whole school's at a loss for such a passionate and amazing teacher."