Evan Farley, ‘20
“I’m going to states this year, and I would like to take some of you with me.” Thirty some students stared up at Drew Miller in a mix of awe and amusement at the track interest meeting in early February as he laid out his ambitions for the track season to come. In the 2017 season, two students, Loren Cantor (Y1) and Zachary Lee (Y1), had made impressive showings at the City Championships after winning the Manhattan Borough Championships, but few thought of qualifying for State Champions as a real possibility. For Miller, however, this is more than a dream. “I coached a 4 by 8 state champion team,” he said in an interview discussing his experiences teaching and coaching referring to a 4 person relay team where each athlete runs 800 meters. “I’ve coached a triple jump state champion. I’ve gotten a lot of really good experience.” His arrival at BHSEC as the third health teacher in three semesters marks his sixth year teaching and fifth year as a coach of some sort. As the head coach of the track and field team, however, Miller faces a whole new range of challenges. Leading a team comprised of fifty athletes running different events on top of managing a full workload will be nothing less than exhausting, but Miller says he is “looking forward to it.” So how did this track coach phenom end up at a place like BHSEC? It all started with a successful run of his own.
BHSEC’s newest addition to the Atheltic department, Mr000
Born in Lewisburg, a small town in central Pennsylvania where Bucknell University is located, Miller has long held a desire to teach. “I remember playing school with my sister when I was really young,” he said, laughing at the memory. In high school, Miller was inspired by a physical education teacher who also taught health and coached soccer. With no pressure from the coach, he decided those fields were something in which he was interested. He studied health and physical education at East Stroudsburg University, where he “fell in love with track.” He also played soccer in high school and dabbled with it in college, but “just for fun.” Bounding off with a skip, a hop, and a leap, Miller qualified for the National Championships in both long and triple jump in all four years of his collegiate career. This is no small feat in a Division II school and Miller is proud of what he accomplished: “I achieved a lot more than I ever really thought I would achieve.”
Despite performing well on the field, Miller found that he gravitated towards teaching health rather than physical education. “I had to student-teach health and phys-ed,” Miller said, “and I found that I just liked health better … It’s very personable and you’re having these deep conversations about feelings, substance abuse, sexual topics.”
Fresh out of college, Miller became a substitute teacher in his hometown, working with the teachers who once taught him. His “first full time teaching experience was in a place called Chambersburg, Pennsylvania,” where he was a health teacher and assistant track coach. “After two and half years, I got the urge to leave rural PA and move to the city,” Miller said. “The last school I taught at was Brooklyn Prospect Charter School down in Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn.” There, he taught PE and coached the seven-person track team.
Miller is also a student himself, working towards a masters degree in human sexuality education at Widener University. This is where he met Rachel Gibson, the one-semester health teacher who now works for the Department of Education, although she still teaches an elective at BHSEC. “We became friends because we had a class together and both taught health and phys-ed.” When she got a new job, Gibson suggested Miller as a replacement “and it kinda worked out.” Now, having two months to settle into the BHSEC life, he is looking forward to pushing students academically and the aforementioned deep conversations.
But more than a scary coach at practice, Miller is a dog-loving, rec league-playing, family man. As a part time dog walker for Wag, he loves pups and people. He is connected with the athletic roots of his family and plays volleyball, kickball, and soccer in recreational leagues around the city. He likes to travel back home and to the beach. Although his dream destination is San Diego, Miller likes to explore his newish home of NYC. Like any of us, he watches trash TV with his roommate and listens to a wide variety of music, from Shawn Mendes to Tupac. So even with this new full workload, Miller has some fun in the sun.
E: Welcome to BHSEC, we’re glad to have you here. So, where are you from?
M: So originally I grew up in central pennsylvania in a little town called Lewisburg, its where Bucknell University is, that’s what I tell people, so i grew up there. Family is still there. Grandparents are still there, but I lived in another town in Pennsylvania before moving to New York
E: How did you get into teaching?
M: So it’s kinda weird, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school with my sister when I was really young, but I guess i didn’t know what i wanted to teach until high school. I had a really good health and Phys-Ed teacher who was also my soccer coach, so he didn’t pressure me into doing, but I admired him and enjoyed his classes and thought it might be something I would be interested in. I had to student teach health and phys-ed and I found that I just liked health better. I did elementry for a month but all five/six years of my teaching has been high school.
E: Where have you taught before?
M: I subbed for two years after college in the Lewisburg school district, that was fun I was with my old teachers. I did an elementary school for a month, also in Lewisburg, that was fun. My first full time teaching experience was in a place called Chambersburg Pennsylvania, large rural town, like 700 kids per grade. That was my first job. After two and half years I got the urge to leave rural PA and move to the city so the last school I taught at was Brooklyn Prospect Charter School which is down in Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn. I taught primarily phys-ed there for two years before getting this job.
E: how did you find at BHSEC?
M: Ms. Gibson, the previous health teacher, and I are classmates in grad school and we became friends maybe a year ago. We became friends because we had a class together and both taught health and phys-ed. She knew she got a new job with the DOE in health and was like I think you would be really good with this and so I interviewed and it kinda worked out. I don’t know how much she vouched for me and how much i was actually qualified but (laughs)
E: Where do you go to grad school?
M: I’m in grad school right now. I am in my last semester at Widener University, which is in Chester (PA).
E: What do you study there?
M: Its a masters education in human sexuality education.
E: So you’re the track coach, what was it like running in college?
M: I had a really athletic family. My dad was always good and I just fell in love with track as well, just the camaraderie and having a good amount of success. Collegiate track was great. One because I met my group of friends there, so I’m still in touch with them, a really solid group with similar goals. It was a really positive experience. I achieved a lot more than i ever really thought I would achieve. I made the national meet like four times. I got to travel a lot to places I will probably never go back, like albuquerque, minnesota, random places. I met a lot of really cool, I think the biggest thing that I got was the people. People on other teams that you see every week at meets. Your own teammates, coaches that I stay in contact with. That was the best part I would say.
E: Did you try any other sports in high school or college?
M: I did soccer in high school and I did club in college as well, or rather intramural. That was just for fun, and I wasn’t really supposed to be doing it because I was a DII athlete. But I loved it. And right now I do volleyball, I’ve done kickball leagues and i’ve done intramural soccer in rec leagues up here.
E: Have you coached track before?
M: yeah, I coached at Lewisburg, which was really fun, back with the coach that taught me, or coached me. I’ve gotten a lot of really good experience. I’ve coached pretty much everything except the throws. I coached a 4 by 8 state champion, I’ve coached a triple jump state champion, and thats been fun and it’s been a whole different rush being a coach and you don’t realize how invested you get and how much you care. I feel like I get so much more nervous when my athletes are competing than when i used to compete because you want them to do so well.
E: What are you looking forward to about BHSEC?
M: What initially attracted me to BHSEC is health, because I really love health because I feel like you get to know the kids on a different level than PE. It’s very personable and you’re having these deep conversations about feelings, substance abuse, sexual topics. But i guess now at BHSEC what im looking forward to is the fact that the rigor bar is up. I can focus less on managing student behavior and keeping them on task and more on challenging them and pushing them academically whether that’s cognitively or effectively, and eventually with their skills.
E: What do you think your biggest challenge will be?
M: This is my first time being a, well i was a head coach at my old school but I only had like 7 athletes, so this I have a full workload, which is great, I love it. And I also am the head coach of a track team for what’s going to be a lot of kids. I think my biggest concern is just maintaining my balance and making sure that I am giving my best to both. I need to make sure i am on top of my teaching load and also being on top of coaching and making sure they are being challenged.
E: Should be fun.
M: Oh yeah.
E: Other than kickball and volleyball what do you like do in your free time?
M: I like to travel when I can. I think my biggest thing I like the beach a lot. I’ve always wanted to live in San Diego, and I thought I’d be there by now. Love traveling, love being by the beach. I am a part time dog walker, I work for Wag. I love pups. I love spending time with my family and my friends. I’m still relatively new to New York, so I would consider exploring New York one of my hobbies. Exercise in general, I get to the gym. Reading. When I used to take the subway to work I would plow through books.
E: Who’s your favorite artist?
M: I really like Tupac a lot. I really like Lana del Rey, one of my favorites. Been really into Shawn Mendes recently. Well go with those three. I’m all about variety.
E: Movies or shows?
M: Me and my roommate are super into Schitt’s Creek. I love Parks and Rec, I’m obsessed with that. What else have I been watching? Always loved Grey’s Anatomy. And honestly I really like trash reality tv. Like MTV. I used to watch Jersey Shore a lot. The Real Word and all the challenges. I know it’s terrible but I still enjoy it.
E: Is there anything else that you want to say about BHSEC?
M: I’m really excited. Looking forward to it.