New science teacher makes learning fun for San Jon students

By Leslie Radford: Quay County Sun

Who said learning was a bore? Not Steve Goodgame, the new science teacher at San Jon schools.

He just signed on Jan. 3 and already, students are raving about their new teacher.

“He’s the first ‘real’ science teacher I’ve ever had,” said Amber Moore, a senior in one of Goodgame’s classes. She will be graduating this spring and said she wished she could have had Goodgame for a full school year.

“I know I’ll be calling him for help in college in the fall,” she said.

“He’s just awesome,” said Tony Lancaster, 16, who has Goodgame for biology and scientific research.

He’s also being applauded by Superintendent Craig Stockton.

“He’s good,” Stockton said. “I’ve worked with him before, so I know what he’s capable of doing for us.”

Goodgame moved to San Jon from Deming where he was teaching science for almost 10 years. This is where he and Stockton worked together.

Goodgame is in charge of most of the science classes for high school at San Jon.

His previous teaching experiences, varying in science background, allows him to give students the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes like science research, anatomy, physical science and others.

In his first couple of weeks, Goodgame said he’s almost got everyone’s name down.

“I don’t think the students knew what to expect (when I started),” Goodgame said. He thought, however, they adjusted to his teaching style well after just a few days.

Stockton said Goodgame would help implement a program for San Jon to get students more involved in extracurricular science activities like science fairs. In the future, the schools hope to implement a science games program and offer science fairs that will allow area schools to compete.
Goodgame plans on working with the superintendent to “build a science program from the ground up.”

“(Stockton) is dedicated to developing academics at this school, so we hope to provide students with a great academic program as well as offer them activities to get involved in,” Goodgame said.

One thing the administration is happy most with about Goodgame’s classes is that the students are utilizing the lab area more and students are getting involved in science in a lab setting as opposed to just lecture.

“He makes classes more fun because we get to do a lot of hands-on stuff,” said student Jeremy Crane, 15.

Goodgame said he was excited to be teaching in San Jon. One of his favorite things about teaching is “working with the kids and getting them excited about science.”

The enthusiastic teacher has also set up several students with mentors who excel in the fields students express interest in. These mentors consist of experts at universities across the nation that work with the students often providing supplies needed to do experiment, projects and research opportunities.

He said things are a bit different at a smaller school like San Jon compared to the larger school from which he transferred.

“The facilities are great. The staff is great. The class loads are smaller so you get more done,” he said. He also thinks “it’s important to be able to work with students on more of a one-on-one basis.”

Goodgame said he enjoys his job despite the long hours he puts into helping his students and preparing them for science-related activities beyond the school day.

“It’s almost like being a football coach,” said Goodgame who corresponds with dedicated students after school, on Fridays and weekends assisting them with science fair projects. Students will compete in a Regional Science Fair in Portales next month.

Goodgame said currently only high school students are participating this year, but is preparing elementary and middle school students for competition hopefully next year.

“Things like science fairs expose kids to what science is all about,” Goodgame said. “It also encourages kids to get involved in science.”

The San Jon schools science department anticipates several new projects in the future like providing an ITV class through certain New Mexico colleges to provide high school as well as college credit for the students, new facilities, class options, more science competitions, and more.

Goodgame’s wife, Carol, is still in Deming and will join him as soon. As for their 16-year-old daughter, Keely, has already adjusted to the new school system and even gets to have her father for science class.