When he was a middle school student, John Imhof wasn't all that interested in history.
But that changed with his eighth-grade teacher, Imhof said, and by the time he was a high school senior, he knew he wanted to be an advanced placement U.S. history teacher.
Imhof's enthusiasm for history may have been one of the factors that helped him become Hernando County's 2013-14 Teacher of the Year.
Imhof, 37, is the AP U.S. history teacher at Springstead High School. In addition, he teaches regular and dual enrollment U.S. history to Springstead juniors. He is in his seventh year at Springstead and 11th year overall.
Imhof says motivation is key to students being successful.
"We feed off student motivation," he said.
He said he also thrives on students' success, in particular success on the AP exam, administered by the College Board.
"I like the idea that I help the kids prepare for this exam," he said.
Globally, he said, the passing rate for the U.S. history exam is 52 percent. His pass rate for the past three years has been 95 percent, with a career pass rate of 83 percent.
Imhof's students seem to be quite aware of their teacher's value.
"I've never really liked history until this year," said Thomas Jarrell, 16. "He never is behind his desk. You can tell he likes it."
Jarrell said he learns so much during class that he's more than ready for exams.
"He's really teaching you," he said of Imhof. "Everyone respects him as a teacher."
Brandi Martinez, 16, agreed.
Imhof "is a really good teacher," Martinez said. "He makes it really fun. He makes the information easy to comprehend. He makes it easy to learn."
When Imhof heard his name announced Saturday night at the Teacher of the Year recognition banquet at Silverthorn Country Club, he said he reacted with a bit of shock and disbelief.
As the nominees from each school were introduced and short descriptions were read, he said, he realized the amount of talent that surrounded him.
After the announcement of his selection, he said he felt humbled and honored and wanted to dedicate his honor to all of the county's teachers.
Imhof lives in Spring Hill with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, who is a Challenger K-8 first-grader.