This year at Oakland Mills High School, Mr. Berry is joined by a new teacher in room 105. Mr. Jonathan Miller is the second addition to the classroom, and one of the new teachers at our school this year. What drew Mr. Miller to teach Social Studies? Why not another subject? “Because, I think SS applies to our real lives because if you take a class like government, the practical nature, it affects your daily life…Knowing history, helps you become an informed citizen, it helps you figure out the way the world works…” Mr. Miller has had a passion for U.S. History since he was in school, thanks to his own teacher. “I had a great U.S. History teacher, I loved the class… that was the first time I was really interested in school. It really got my attention.”
Mr. Miller likes getting his students involved in his lessons and he enjoys working with them, “…I view my teaching styles- almost collaborating with the students- to collab with students and figure out the answers.” To Mr. Miller, his favorite part of Oakland Mills High is “The students: I’ve been so impressed, I’ve seen these awesome presentations; students in my government class creating their own countries with their own laws, showing and demonstrating what they want in a country. I also love the discussion I’m able to have with high school students; they seem to care about a lot of issues, they’re interested about current events and we have great conversations both in my history and government class.” Before Mr. Miller came here to OM as a Social Studies teacher, he went through the process to become a teacher, “Student teaching is one seven month period in one location- Hammond High, then a three-month period at a middle school.”
One of the hardest parts of teaching, according to Mr. Miller, is adjusting to younger people, “I loved high school, I wanted it right out of the gate, but I was offered a job at a middle school. It was hard because I didn’t know how to get along with a seventh grader; it was hard for me to understand their interests, it took a while, probably like a year to understand how to relate to them and how to have fun with them. It was tough to understand that age group,” Mr. Miller said about his previous position. When asked how he likes teaching at Oakland Mills, Mr. Miller said: “I absolutely love it–coming from a middle school– so, I love teaching high school students, because you can have great discussions. High school in a lot of ways is where students realize the importance and impact on their future that their work has- for example getting into college. As opposed to middle school, where they are in a transition period and don’t quite see how the grades they get impact their future.” Before Mr. Miller was a teacher, he had a different type of job: “Initially I was in commercial real estate– I just wanted to make a lot of money. I always loved history, I always wanted to do it, but I thought it’s not realistic for me. Then when I actually did commercial real estate for five years, I would think, I can’t imagine doing it for another 30 years: so unfulfilling. A day of a commercial real estate broker is 2-3 hours cold calling businesses [a method used to coerce customers to do business with a salesman] to get a meeting, typically with a CFO or CEO to find out if they have any need to move, is their company growing? Is their company shrinking? If they do [move], I want to represent them in that move so then if they are interested, that’s great– I would show them properties (around five), find two or three, and then we would negotiate with different landlords. We would set up a location and they would move into their office space, and I get a commission….”
So why did Mr. Miller become a teacher and give up his job as a Commercial Real Estate Broker? “…it was meaningless for me, to be the person, to look back on my life and be like ‘I helped companies move.’ It’s just not for me.” Mr. Miller explained that he wasn’t satisfied with his job and found teaching to be a better fit. We are very fortunate to have Mr. Miller here at OM to teach some of our government and history classes.