Publish Date: 6-17-2014, 7:57 a.m.

Jim Holbrook and Bob O’Toole are CHC Professors of the Year

Dr. Jim Holbrook and Bob O’Toole were selected by their peers as the CHC Professors of the Year for 2013-14.

Jim Holbrook
Dr. Jim Holbrook, Professor of EMS/Public Safety, has worked at Crafton Hills College since 1984. He is also a longtime resident of Yucaipa. "I always thought I'd be a physician," said Holbrook. "But I had so much fun teaching and helping students - I just stayed."

He has seen a lot of changes in the EMS world over the last few years. And he continues to learn and change, too. Many things inspire him as a professor. Watching students get fired up over difficult concepts is one of them. "It's about the students and my journey together; we are both getting better every day," said Holbrook.

One of the highlights of his career thus far is presenting student and program success at the Hague in the Netherlands.

Colleague Terry Koeper said, "Jim is an icon here at the college. When they started the paramedic training here in the Valley, Jim was one of the first involved. When you mention Dr. Jim Holbrook, anywhere in the United States, someone will know him. It's been a privilege to work with him. He is a very brilliant man and just a gift. It’s a well-deserved honor."

Student Paul Topoleski said, "Dr. Holbrook is an extremely influential mentor in my life and I am not surprised at all that he received Professor of the Year. When people make the statement to 'think outside of the box,' Dr. Holbrook's motto is, 'if you never get into the box, you'll never have to think outside of it.'"

Holbrook said it is amazing watching his students light up.

"I first met him in 1990," said another student, Leilani Akona. "I took his recertification class for my EMT license and I was in his very first Physical Assessment class. I moved out of state to Oregon and upgraded my EMT certification. Twenty-four years later, I'm back taking his Public Safety and Critical Thinking class. Dr. Holbrook is always learning and evolving as a person and educator."

As for future goals at CHC, Holbrook said he plans to keep doing what he's doing.

Bob O’Toole
Bob O'Toole of Yucaipa just sort of fell into the job as a Professor of Accounting, Marketing, Business, and Management at CHC. O'Toole was working at the US Postal Service as an accountant when his wife Linda asked him to go to CHC and check out the position. That was 22 years ago. Although he had no intention of quitting his job at the post office, he did, and came to love the little college on the hill.

"This honor of Professor of the Year is great and I am double-honored to be in the same category as Dr. Holbrook," said O’Toole. O'Toole said the faculty at CHC has always been very supportive and he will miss them upon his retirement this summer.

Over the years he has many memories. One of his favorites was the first night of finals. "I had 16 students in that first class," he said. "During the final exam every one of the students gave me a gift and applauded me. It was an incredible feeling - that I have the opportunity to touch lives and to help them."

And he did just that. "It has been such an honor to have this man as my professor and mentor," said student Russell Parmenter. "He's accessible, treats everyone with the utmost respect, and is a great role model for his students. He is engaging, sharing his life experiences in lectures as to give students a way to take the lesson and relate it to real life. Bob instills confidence in all by believing in everyone one of his students and letting them know that they can do it."

Crystal Sultzbaugh has taken two classes with O'Toole. "He is one of the most inspiring and empowering teachers that I have met," said Sultzbaugh. "His passion for student success is evident in his teaching and his many involvements on campus. He was voted the 'Most Accessible Teacher' by the students and was presented with the award at our Student Recognition Dinner last month.”

Upon retirement this summer, O'Toole and his wife will join the family and new granddaughter in Arizona. "I always thought we’d live in Yucaipa until we died," said O'Toole. "We have lived here since 1983 and it has been a great community for us."

O’Toole said it is just time to retire and move on. "I absolutely love CHC but I will be 50 years older than the next group of students and it’s my duty to pass the torch."

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