Mr. Miller: A Science Teaching Legend


Franklin Hu

Mr. Stephen Miller dresses up as the “will it blend” meme for a school-wide meme day and uses it as a way to teach students a new science concept.

Madison La Crosse

The legendary Stephen Miller, an eighth-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School (KMS), is retiring after this school year. Students who had Miller as a teacher or even just heard stories of his class, know that he was an exceptional educator, worthy of high praise.

Miller started his teaching journey in 1995, but that wasn’t his plan from the beginning. Miller originally wanted to be a forester and attend the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. However, these plans changed in 1984 when he got hit by a car and was severely injured. He received his first degree from Madison Area Technical College (MATC) for audio-visual related topics. After MATC, Miller was interested in filming and editing, but also, science. Miller got a degree from the University of Wisconsin- DeForest in education with an emphasis in science, and then a masters in physics education from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls. He also earned every science certification except for chemistry. Miller got into the teaching game a little late and ended up choosing this path because he decided he “needed a job with medical insurance and liked that I [Mr. Miller] would have summers off. ” Miller has taught science for the past 24 years, beginning in 1995 at Mt. Horeb High School, and eventually moving to KMS in 1996.

Although Miller didn’t get to live out his dream of being a forester, he doesn’t regret becoming a teacher. This is because he gets to teach one of the things he loves the most: science.

The Mr. Miller science class experience was like none other. His classroom had a vivacious feel attributed to his personality and the room itself. Miller loves his punny t-shirts with clever jokes on them, most relating to science. Miller’s science class made even the least passionate science students excited for his class. Note taking was a fun experience thanks to all of Mr. Miller’s drawings that explained the content of the lesson.

Miller had many favorite aspects of teaching. One of his favorite times of the year was spirit week, when students would dress up as him for student-teacher swap day.

Additionally, Miller recalls when fellow science teacher Bruce Koeller would play a game in the hallway near their classrooms after school. The goal of the game was to bounce a bouncy ball off of random objects in the hall and try to have it end up in the water fountain. Miller says that they would even have students join in and play with them.

Franklin Hu
Mr. Stephen Miller has many punny t-shirts, including the one pictured above. On the day he wore this shirt, he explained to his students that he had the “Write?” shirt like most teachers. However, Miller went to a mall kiosk to print the “You read my shirt” writing onto the shirt.

Sadly, in the new building, there weren’t very many student lockers around his room, so this game didn’t continue.

He loved sharing YouTube videos that he found funny or interesting, and also showed video edits he had created in college. Students would ask throughout the entirety of the year to see these amusing videos again.

Miller had a plethora of great moments while teaching but many were unplanned. In an experiment that involved blowing air into a beaker that contained an egg in an attempt to get the egg out using air pressure, on a few occasions, the beakers exploded, causing the glass to fly across the classroom. As one could imagine, this was not the safest situation for students. However, he can look back on those incidents and laugh. Another stunt, which occurred in 2018 included a lithium battery, a staple, an explosion, and a classroom evacuation. Miller explains that he will miss many aspects of teaching. He explains that although he “love[s] teaching, I [Mr. Miller] never liked grading and the short time period I got to plan lessons.”

He will miss his favorite part of the year: third quarter. This is when he felt that he had gotten to know all the students somewhat well and established a connection to them. The aspect of teaching that he will miss the most though, Miller claims, is “the daily banter with students during class.”

Miller says that if you happen to be a former student of his and you see him out in Middleton or anywhere, say hello, but remember to say your name! He has had many many students over all the years, so don’t be offended if it takes him a second to remember just who you are. Miller says that he has run into students in unexpected places. He has run into a former student in Washington D.C. over spring break, and has seen a number of other past students while on vacation. He even explains, “I still have contact with former students who are now around 30 years old.”

Mr. Miller truly was a great teacher who taught students lots of information about science as well as many other important life lessons. Miller will be missed in the teaching community by staff and students alike due to the lasting impact he has left on all the people who have known him.