My esteem for teachers has increased after working in a public middle school. Bob Milton is to be commended for his dedication to students.
“If I were starting out today as a college freshman, I still would go into teaching because that’s who I am.”
Bob Milton made this statement at the beginning of his 32nd year of teaching science at Norwell Middle School (NMS). After graduating from Northside High School in Crawfordsville, Indiana, he attended Manchester College, majoring in Education with minors in physical education and biology.
Milton began his teaching career at Wabash High School and in Huntington, Indiana. In 1979 he was hired as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher at NMS, a school with approximately 600 enrolled students. He has been there ever since, focusing primarily on eighth grade science.
This year Milton, like many teachers in school corporations, took on additional responsibilities to accommodate staff reduction at NMS. When the school’s science department was reduced from six teachers to four, Milton’s daily work load increased by two seventh grade science classes, or 55 students.
Milton deals with the staff changes and other educational standards mandated by the state with equanimity. “I don’t find teaching at NMS to be difficult. The students are as respectful of teachers as one could hope to find in a public school. Some students come from homes that don’t appear to have much leadership. Yet those kids are respectful in class. As a veteran teacher, I have a reputation for being low-key,” he added. “I think it reduces their stress if they know I want kids to be happy while learning science. I want them to learn as much as they possibly can and have fun while doing it.”
Milton tries to uses real-life examples to facilitate students’ interest in science. “To teach Bernoulli’s Principle I tell students to think of an owner of a Corvette. One day, while driving the car at 60 miles per hour, the roof of the car popped up. He forgot to lock the lid and when the air went over the top, it created unequal pressure outside and inside, forcing the lid to raise.”
In addition to teaching science Milton has coached high school track and cross country at Norwell High School and NMS.
After all these years, Milton is still enthused about teaching. “I love the students and teaching,” he said. “The quality of student at NMS makes it possible. I don’t feel burnt out. I’m lucky to be doing what I love for so long. I’m appreciative to be at a school with a lab in my classroom and where I get along with the people I work with. I want to establish long-lasting relationships with students,” he said. “This should be a good climate to learn so that they will remember the things they have learned.”
Previously published in the Ossian Sun Riser; reprinted with permission. Photographer: Sara DeVoe.