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‘Goofball' TV star finds common ground with teachers - Gillette News Record: News

‘Goofball' TV star finds common ground with teachers

Guy behind ‘Beakman on the Brain' makes science interesting

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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 12:00 am

As Beakman, Paul Zaloom hopes kids become enthusiastic about science.

The actor who starred in a national TV show aimed at kids and parents in the 1990s, also hopes he has something in common with teachers.

After school on Thursday, he met with 13 Gillette teachers to discuss how to make science more interesting for students.

There was no costume, no makeup or nerdy wig that you can expect to see Friday evening when "Beakman on the Brain," takes place at the Cam-plex Heritage Center.

Zaloom also performed his show for all Campbell County second-graders Friday afternoon as part of the arts in education program offered through Cam-plex.

On Thursday evening, the actor sat in his jeans and baseball cap face-to-face with teachers in a candid dialogue of what they both do to engage students in science.

And surprisingly, they found they have a lot in common.

"I was just a goofball in a wig. I didn't need any continuity," Zaloom said. "I was trying to hit the treetops, to make science more accessible.

"We weren't as popular as the Power Ranger but I will tell you why it works," he said, relating a story of an ophthalmologist in Gillette who spoke to him an hour after he arrived in Gillette and sent him a letter asking for an autographed photo.

"He told me 'I am an ophthalmologist today because of you,' Zaloom added. "And he sent me $2 in the envelope, which I thought was cute. ... I think the show did have an impact."

He asked the teachers to write the five roles that they play as a teacher and the five things that describe a good entertainer.

The worlds they chose were often the same: Funny, inspiring, caring, improvising, animated, engaging, creative, excited, knows his or her stuff, outgoing, prepared, personable, passionate, enthusiastic, energetic, innovative.

"We talk about being a teacher as being a performer," one participant noted.

"We just don't tour and get paid nearly as good as you would," said another, who is student teaching in Campbell County schools.

"It's fascinating," Zaloom told them. "There are standards you still have to meet, yet you have to be a mother, a referee or a friend.

"I don't know how you do it. I've got to give you props. I really strongly respect what you do. I don't think you get enough credit for what you do and you get blamed all the time."

The teachers discussed techniques they use to engage their students. Many mentioned that they use technology in the classroom, something so many youth are tuned into.

Others try to make lessons memorable to students, sometimes by entertaining them, too.

Some teach through music, including writing new lyrics to a popular song about what they're studying, such as the cardiovascular system.

"Just keep the classes alive and they will listen," one teacher advised. "They have to learn without entertainment, but with interest."

"I sometimes wonder if teachers hate me or resent me because I get to do the big things," Zaloom said. "How do you feel about me? You have to do the heavy lifting.

"I love entertaining kids. Their sense of humor is amazing. I love to make jokes for these guys and find out what they find funny.

"I feel very strongly that part of what I do is be an educator. I feel an affinity with you folks and I hope you do for what I do."

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