A Letter from Ken Miller - Longtime DJDS teacher retiring after 18 years

A Letter from Ken Miller - Longtime DJDS teacher retiring after 18 years
  • Outside the Classroom
Ken Miller

 

By Ken Miller, DJDS Teacher & Coach for 18 Years

 

The truth of it is that I never thought I was going to be a teacher, mainly because everyone else in my family was in education. I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank and Deutsche Bank in New York City for ten years, and I loved it. For me, the corporate world provided the means to support my family, learn new things, and to develop relationships with a wide variety of people. Not to mention the fact that the cleaning company for our building was also the groundskeeping crew at Yankee Stadium, and that led to many tickets. I think that deciding to become a teacher later in life was probably one of the most important factors in terms of having success as a teacher.  What started at a Children's Home in North Carolina has become the most rewarding years of my life. I often tell students that teaching is by far the hardest job I have ever had. You are always on once you step in front of the classroom and you better be prepared for just about every minute of the day.

When we moved to Colorado neither one of us (my wife and I) had jobs. I was very fortunate to become a fifth grade teacher at the Bergen Valley Elementary School in Evergreen a few days after a five day road trip with two Aussies and a Brit from New Hampshire to Evergreen. I was blessed to be hired by the Denver Jewish Day School (Herzl/ RMHA) and to work with teammates Rabbi Levitt, Terri Otto, and Mali Fried for over 10 years, and Becky Sheinbaum for that final fifth grade year. Not many people get to work with people they actually like for over 10 years and I want to thank each of them for those years.  I also want to thank the parents, who have been some of the most supportive people I have ever met. My ultimate goal was to teach high school history and the Upper Division made that happen 6 years ago. I am very grateful to my colleagues and the administration for the terrific ending to my teaching career.

 

   

It is not so much about the Galleon Game in fifth grade (although Simon Kaufman was still complaining about his galleon crew at the school dinner a few months ago), it is not about recess baseball, being Eitan’s prom date, being 170 years old, having an empty, cold, dark, metallic hole where my heart should be, the Hatchet book, chronology, the dry New York humor, learning to read box scores and score baseball games, it is not about Asher Foonberg stating that Jason Digioia was a young Mr. Miller, it is not about winning a division title in baseball, it is not about my “Don’t Be That Guy” rants, it is not about students who pay more attention to my hair than I ever will, and it is not about American History or AP Macroeconomics.

It is about taking teaching and coaching very passionately and personally. It is about trying new things and accepting challenges as an educator (Taking on the task of teaching AP Macroeconomics was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and in many ways, it became the best part of my day). It is about treating the misfits and the students outside the cool groups with extra attention and care.  You need to make them feel like they are important to you and feel good about going to school every day. It is about that adrenalin rush I get every day when teaching and coaching.  The gift of coaching here is not about winning titles (sorry Matan, but thanks for putting up with me as a coach) but to get high school students to want to come out and play something they are not very good at, and love it even though we might not win a lot. And Jerry, we will always have Elbert where we watched our young men sing themselves off the field after a victory.  I was recently invited to a Rockies game as a retirement gift by Jonathan and Eitan Kochavi, and Gilly Halzel. A fan in front of us turned around in the middle of the game and said, Mr. Miller, I want to thank you and the young men with you for your hysterical banter and making this game one of the most enjoyable games I have ever been to.  

It is about making our young people better citizens of their community, and country.  It is also about noticing and extending ourselves to the invisible among us, the cleaning people, the kitchen workers, people who work at restaurants, and many others.  And finally, It is about the love at this school.  The love of this community, the teachers, the staff, and the students.

 

 

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