Preston Q. Boomer

| 4 Comments
Amazing person I just found out about. He has been teaching Science for over 50 years at the San Lorenzo Valley High School. A true American Original. Check out this story at the Baltimore Sun:
Science with a 'Boom'
For five decades, Preston Q. Boomer's unique and creative teaching style has kept students at one California high school riveted.

"The Boom" is bouncing around the classroom like an overgrown kid. With his bushy gray eyebrows and mad scientist's grin, he's demonstrating the density of methane to 25 rapt teenagers at San Lorenzo Valley High School.

"Let's see if we can do this without burning the place up again," he says.

"Again?" gasps one girl.

Explosions are nothing new to Preston Q. Boomer's physics and chemistry classes. Neither are flash fires, electric shocks, spark-spitting transformers or deafening gongs, sirens and klaxons. He begins many lectures with the subversive come-on: "Want to blow something up today?"

It's the Boom's Big Bang Theory of teaching: Noise is fun, even instructive. But his wacky experiments can go awry. One day the cops showed up as a result of a half-baked Boomer stunt. The teacher was testing whether a 1.5-million-volt Tesla coil could shoot a spark across the room. In the process, he cut off all police radio communications for miles.

Boomer's reaction: "Neat!"

Preston Boomer is 75.

He's been teaching science at the same school near Santa Cruz since 1956, the year Elvis Presley released "Heartbreak Hotel." He's had 8,000 students in the past half-century - three generations of some families. Many teachers and administrators once sat in his class. He often hears from former students long retired. But like the Robert Crumb cartoon posted in his class, he prefers to "Keep on Truckin'."

High school graduates everywhere can recall a teacher who was a favorite despite the generational divide. Boomer is that teacher taken to the next level. He is one of fewer than 20 California instructors with 50 or more years in the classroom. It's not just his longevity that amazes colleagues and students; so does his energy.

Boomer's pension now outpaces his salary, so he'd make more money if he called it quits. Yet with no mandatory retirement in his district, he says his goal is to remain "until they drag my corpse off the lab table."

There's this thing about retired teachers, he says: "Before you know it, they're dead."
As you might well guess, his house is a bit unique. Here is his personal website with a tour of Boomeria including a 2,500 pipe classic tracker baroque organ, underground catacombs, castle, water cannons, an engine room with live steam engines, catapults, etc... Here is an online tribute to his 50 years teaching with some great photographs -- here are four of them:
boomer_teacher_01.jpg
boomer_teacher_02.jpg
boomer_teacher_03.jpg
boomer_teacher_04.jpg
Like I said, a true American Classic...

4 Comments

I met Da Boom in the mid 80's, was not a student of his, but a fellow pipe organ buff. A mutual acquaintance set up an opportunity for me to visit Boomeria and meet him.

A towering, slightly mad genius...and I mean that in every positive sense!

Super guy, GREAT teacher and a true role model.

Though I never took any of his classes in school, I'm almost his age, I have personally experienced his zaniness.

As a matter of fact he's coming over to the house for dim sum tomorrow night. =!8^)

Ciao

He was my chemistry teacher in 1986 and physics teacher in 1988. I still recall many of his sayings fondly: "Goose on the loose!," "There is no such thing as a free lunch," and "Nature abhors a vacuum." He was a true genius- making chemistry and physics accessible and fun for kids who would usually much rather be surfing on a sunny day in Santa Cruz than sitting in class. Thank you, Boom-Baby! -Julie Holmon, MD, previously Julie Abrahamson

Hah, he's my teacher...he's a little crazed...

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