FARMINGTON (WCCO) — School is in session and that means WCCO is beginning our Excellent Educator awards. This week, we honor a teacher who loves to make students laugh while they learn.

Ask any student what they love most about their teacher, Steve Terhaar, and you’ll get one response.

“He’s a humorous teacher. Very funny,” said one student.

For 16 years, Terhaar has been teaching earth science to 8th graders at Dodge Middle School in Farmington.

“In fact, when we heard this was happening today, we didn’t know if he was going to be out in the river taking measurements or, like on the first day of school, he was out by the flag pole taking measurements, so he’s hard to find sometimes,” principal Chris Bussmann said.

The students love him for his jokes.

“If he says a funny joke and uses it as science pun, it helps you to remember it because I like comedy and I love science and he combines those two together,” student Britta Nielsen said.

But it’s more than funny business. Tehaar likes students to be hands on with experiments

“They get to immerse themselves in it and I think that makes it a lot more interesting when kids cannot just talk about it, they get to feel it and touch it,” Terhaar said.

His passion for science goes way back.

“I had a good science teacher in middle school. Mr. Binsfield and Mr. Binsfield always inspired me to do my best and I think often times it does go back to a teacher that turns you on to science,” Terhaar said.

Now, he’s turning this generation on to his favorite subject. But when it comes to Terhaar’s real passion, you need to look further than the syllabus.

“Very little, I think, is science — at this level anyway. I enjoy the science, but so much is going on at these kids’ lives, it’s fascinating to watch,” Terhaar said.

Terhaar says he really loves to get to know the students on a personal level and help them with whatever it is that’s going on in their lives.