Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 29, 2013

Underwater classroom

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A former Pauls Valley educator has continued his teaching career — this time down under, as in under the water.

Steve Jarman spent more than three decades teaching math here in PV. Now he’s spent even more time as a scuba diver as he’s now celebrating 20 of those years teaching others to take the dive.

Now a master scuba diving trainer, Jarman continues to love teaching others how to take in a world not seen unless they choose to put on the gear and go underwater. It’s something he plans to keep doing well into the future.

“I haven’t really counted the number of students I’ve instructed over the years,” Jarman said.

“As long as I feel good I’m going to keep doing it.”

Jarman’s first dive was actually a kind of accident when he took a trip back in 1987 to Acapulco.

“We met this enterprising young man on the beach who asked us if we wanted to go diving,” he said.

“We went down to 20 feet for about 15 minutes even though the clarity was not that good.”

Six months later he decided to give diving another try. That’s when he began to get more serious about his underwater adventures by getting more training.

A year later he got certified as a diver at Lake Tenkiller here in Oklahoma.

From there he was “off to the races” as his next step was advanced open water certification followed by a dive master rating in 1992.

It was at that point he started teaching others how to dive.

That training involves five academic sessions with a television and video, along with some instruction at the indoor Bosa pool here in Pauls Valley.

Students are then given sessions in Lake Murray, which Jarman says is a good spot because it includes an underwater playground that works well with instruction.

“I have really enjoyed teaching small groups of students and introducing them to diving,” Jarman said.

“I get a lot of gratification taking a beginner and teaching them and within a short period having them 60 feet down and handling it like a pro,” he said.

“I don’t know anything I’ve ever done that I’ve enjoyed more. It does my heart good to see people excel at it and grow daily. Every time they get in the water they get better.”

With the dive season typically going from the middle of June into the fall, Jarman himself has advanced as he’s got several specialties, including deep diver, night diver, underwater naturalist and underwater videography.

Jarman’s biggest honor came in 2008 when the Diver Alert Network named him a finalist for diver of the year.

His experiences have also drawn plenty of questions from those curious about diving.

“I get the usual questions like do I see a lot of sharks,” he said. “I don’t think of them any more than any other fish, but I do respect them when I see them. Usually they’re just passing through. Most of them take off when they see you.

“The biggest thing I ever saw was a fleeting glimpse of a manta ray, which had a wing span of about 20 feet.

“The meanest thing I ever saw was a perch at Lake Murray. It was a little mama protecting her next.”

He added he’s seen plenty of dolphins but no whales.

As for diving itself, Jarman says the whole experience continues to be the thing.

“It’s so fascinating. You get hooked and want to get more and more of it. You’re in a completely different world,” he said.

“I’ve gone places and seen things that most people only see on TV. It’s opened up so many things for me.”