Mr. Stephen Bloom – Altara Elementary School
We would like to nominate Mr. Stephen Bloom, 6″ grade teacher at Altara Elementary School, 800 East 11000 South, in Sandy, Utah, to receive the honor of the KSL Radio “Teacher Feature” Award.
Our youngest four sons were all privileged to have Mr. Bloom as their 6″‘ grade teacher. As parents, we were impressed by his marvelous blend of humor and scholarship, his dedication to each student, and the way he prepares his students for middle school and for life in general.
Our sons have each written short essays (attached) telling of their experiences with Mr. Bloom. Currently, Nathan (22) is a student at BYU, Aaron (20) is an LDS missionary, Talmage (18) is a senior at Alta High School, and Joshua (14) is in 9″‘ grade at Crescent View Middle School. They have each taken opportunities throughout the years to return to Altara to visit with their “favorite” teacher. As is evident by their essays, they have been extremely successful in their many endeavors since leaving Mr. Bloom’s 6′” grade classroom. We believe that their success is due in large measure to the foundation that Mr. Bloom laid for them.
Thank you Mr. Bloom!
-Jeff and Diane Haines
Like any kid new to the sixth grade, I went into Mr. Bloom’s class that first day with enormous apprehensions. One quick look around the room immediately set me at ease. The walls were full of funny posters and pictures, and there was an entire bookcase full of stuffed animals ranging from Barney the Purple Dinosaur to all four Teletubbies. I had never met an adult who had a hobby of collecting toddler merchandise! Soon I was to realize that Mr. Bloom was no ordinary teacher. Every day was a different experience that had humor and fun mixed right along with knowledge and learning. His teaching style was unique. If someone gave a wrong answer, he would make sure they knew it was wrong and exactly why it was wrong. There was no such thing as being overly babied because he treated us like adults. He had no problem telling or receiving jokes, so every day was full of laughs. By the time I graduated from the sixth grade, I was ready to take on the world with the preparation he gave me. Below are a very few of my favorite stories that I remember from being in Mr. Bloom’s class. My homework has long since been turned in, but his lessons are still sticking with me!
Mr. Bloom is the only teacher I had that took recess as seriously as his students. I remember that virtually every day the weather permitted, Mr. Bloom was outside playing the basketball game called Speed. He always made sure that no one was excluded from playing no matter what the skill level, and he would yell shouts of support and challenge equally. This worked wonders for my confidence in sports (which was extremely low until then). If I could keep up with Mr. Bloom, I could keep up with anybody! For the first time in my life, I was playing basketball with a grownup other than my Dad.
In the classroom I was a diligent and hardworking student, just as I had always been in my previous classes. However, no amount of praise could compare with what Mr. Bloom gave me. In his joking nature, he often referred to me as a “Brainiac.” I strived to show off every ounce of brain I could muster just to ensure him that he was right.
Another thing I will always remember is Mr. Bloom’s extensive use of the dictionary. He would often look up a specific word on the spot to further explain whatever he was teaching. One day, he grew frustrated with everyone’s repeated use of the phrase “never mind.” He proceeded to lecture us on better ways to express ourselves than simple answers. To prove his point he went to the dictionary. I still remember the definitions.
never: Not ever, on no occasion.
mind: the human conscience.
And to quote Mr. Bloom’s famous phrase, “To say ‘never mind’ is to say that you have no mind!” He printed the definitions out and placed them on his notebook. The next time the answer “Never mind!” was given, he would rush to his notebook and loudly read off the definitions. Needless to say, we all found better ways to express ourselves.
Mr. Bloom made it possible for me to experiment with my creative nature without letting me get too carried away. During the Christmas season, we were given the assignment to make special pop-out holiday cards for other teachers around the school. I had the “bright” idea to make a pop-out of a hideous looking monster, with the words “Hope you have an ABOMINABLE Christmas!” in order to make the reference to the classic Abominable Snowman legend. Mr. Bloom was looking over the cards at his desk when he let out an amused laugh, and then asked me to meet with him privately. He congratulated me for my new twist on Christmas cards, but then he explained that the wording I used might be taken the wrong way. Together we looked up the word “abominable” in the dictionary (abominable: repugnantly hateful; detestable; loathsome) and decided that the other teacher receiving the card might not take it as light-heartedly as we did. I came up with an alternative, “Hope you have a TERRORiffic Christmas!” which he decided to approve. I’ll never forget that one-on-one real world learning experience in communication that I received from Mr. Bloom.
Now many years later, I still have great memories from when I was a student in Mr. Bloom’s class. My sixth grade year was a turning point for me, largely from what Mr. Bloom taught. From there the scary jump into middle school wasn’t so scary at all, because I had the right kind of preparation from a man who wasn’t afraid to be a little blunt. What set Mr. Bloom apart from all the other teachers that I had was that rather than being treated as a pupil, I was treated as a genuine friend. And for an insecure kid in the sixth grade, that is a big deal.
Currently a scholarship student at Brigham Young University
Mr. Bloom taught me that you don’t have to fit the usual mold that people expect of a schoolteacher. You can be yourself and have fun no matter what profession you are in. I also felt that he really cared about us kids and our learning even though he had a very different way of expressing it than most teachers would. The fact that he put up with us and made sure that we had a fun time while learning showed a lot. Mr. Bloom made an effort to not miss class because he knew that we learned best when he was there.
–Elder Aaron R. Haines
Currently an LDS missionary
Whenever I am asked to name my favorite teacher, I always look back to the memories made and lessons learned in Mr. Bloom’s 6″‘ grade class. The lessons and habits he taught me are ones that I still apply and ponder to this day.
Before I attended his class my older brother would come home with hilarious “Mr. Bloom Stories.” His off-the-wall sense of humor and clever sayings were a common dinner table conversation item. My excitement grew as my 6″ grade year approached, yet still I was unprepared for the laughter and memories that would come.
Mr. Bloom had the ability of being a quirky, funny guy while maintaining a controlled and disciplined atmosphere where learning could take place. From the reserved time for basketball every day to the long vocabulary assignment in every history chapter, Mr. Bloom’s class was a place where learning and fun happened simultaneously. The teacher who had numerous stuffed animals of Teletubbies and Barneys in his room was also the one who stressed the importance of writing in complete sentences. He taught me that although life involves hard work, that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh and smile while living it.
Perhaps the most common habit I have formed from his direct influence was the art of speaking and reading clearly. From the very beginning of the year he stressed the importance of pronouncing your T’s and pausing after periods and comas when reading out loud. Growing up in Utah meant that many of us kids had developed the Utah slang. Mr. Bloom pointed out to us that speaking in that manner portrayed outright laziness. His lessons instilled in me a desire to communicate clearly and confidently, which is something I have tried to apply literally every day of my life since then.
I remember vividly the day when he showed us a high-definition picture of a person sneezing without covering their mouth. The spray of saliva and germs was incredibly large in width and distance, and the picture was made that much more humorous when Mr. Bloom drew a frowny face of “the person sitting across from you.” The lesson of covering your mouth when you sneeze was made crystal clear. Simple manners and etiquette were enforced in the classroom and ultimately helped form upright, outstanding, and courteous future members of society.
I have always been proud to tell people that my favorite teacher was Mr. Bloom. I have used and applied those simple but profound lessons he taught me countless times. As I go through my high school years and continue to be involved in music and performing, I can’t help but try to emulate his entertaining personality and self-confidence
–Talmage S. Haines
Senior, Alta High School
I still remember when my brother Talmage was in the 6″ grade and I was in the 3rd grade. We went to parent teacher conferences together and went into Mr. Bloom’s classroom. As a 3rd grader, I was amazed at all of the “toys” he had. Barney was everywhere, little trolls lined the white board, all four Teletubbies sat on a shelf, and there were funny posters that had jokes on them that I didn’t understand. When my mom introduced me to Mr. Bloom, I asked him if he would still be there when I was a 6′” grader. He laughed and said that he would always be teaching there.
Three of my older brothers were students of Mr. Bloom before me, and they would come home with stories about “Mr. Bloom did a funny thing,” or “Mr. Bloom said something funny today.” I would listen with interest because I knew that I was going to soon be in his class.
I thought I was ready to enter his classroom, but when I did, nothing could have prepared me for it. None of my teachers that I had before were anything like Mr. Bloom. He told jokes all the time. He played “Speed” with us outside for the last 15 minutes of the day. He played “War Ball” with us. He read novels out loud to us such as The Hobbit and Treasure Island. These are only a few of the great things he did.
What I admired most about him was that he never willingly missed a day of school. One time he did miss school, and that was when he had to attend a required meeting. He was not happy about it. He also taught us how to get rid of our “Utah accent.” We could not replace our t’s with n’s, and we would have to pronounce our h’s very clearly, like when and where.
Whenever somebody asks me who my favorite teacher was, I will always say Mr. Bloom.
–Joshua S. Haines
Crescent View Middle School
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