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James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry

by Marc S. Reisch
January 21, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 3

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Goodman
Credit: Courtesy of Richard Goodman

Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.

Award tributes rarely come from an entire class of high school students. But in the case of Richard Goodman, 51, the entire class of an Advanced Placement chemistry course wrote a letter to support his nomination for the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching.

As a group, the students acknowledged that taking a college-level class could seem "ridiculously imposing," requiring "page-long notes on quantum theory and polyprotic acid titrations." But their teacher succeeded in getting them through the course with flying colors not only because he had a solid grasp of and passion for chemistry, but also because he was able to make the class fun and interesting. "Less of a teacher and more of a father figure to us, Mr. Goodman makes his class a part of his family," they said.

Goodman wins his students' admiration and devotion not only because he fosters their academic achievement, but also because he encourages them to build on their many other talents. He has advised school clubs and has coached varsity and junior varsity sports throughout his career. A high school teacher for 29 years, with the last 23 at Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, N.Y., Goodman has taught AP chemistry, as well as the standard high school chemistry and biology. He??has beenan inspiration and valuable resource for his colleagues and school community throughout his career and??as??chairman of the Greeley science department for six years.

Goodman has also inspired many of his students to continue their chemistry studies in college and become chemists and chemistry teachers themselves. Many have gone on to attend??Ivy League and other??elite universities, where they have received degrees in chemistry.

Early on, Goodman set his sights on becoming a science teacher. He graduated from the State University of New York, Buffalo, in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in biology and science education. He went on to earn a master's degree in 1983 in chemistry, biology, and science education from Columbia University Teachers College.

He worked for a year as a laboratory specialist at his alma mater, South Shore High School, Brooklyn, N.Y. Goodman then spent five years as a science teacher in the Bedford Central School District in New York, first teaching at Fox Lane Middle School and then at Fox Lane High School, where he codirected the alternative high school (ACES) for four years. He went to Horace Greeley High School in 1985. According to Goodman, "ACES is where I learned how to teach, and Greeley is where I learned to love teaching."

Goodman has also helped train student teachers, participated in the development of science curricula, and presented workshops on teaching strategies to other educators. An ACS member, he offered a workshop on chemistry class demonstrations that attracted more than 50 participants at the 2003 fall national meeting of ACS in New York City.

He is a cofounder of the IBM Family Science Saturday workshops, where elementary school children engage in science activities with professional scientists. The program has been running for 15 years and frequently involves Goodman's students, who serve as facilitators and helpers.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Chemical Education.


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