"Ms. Chin has taught me what it looks like to go above and beyond."


Drew Bank

It is a rare gift to know your purpose early in life. How many of us can say we knew what we wanted to do with our lives at the age of eighteen and then can say it again, with just as much conviction, after having done it for twenty years? Miranda Chin’s first physics teacher, Mr. David Jones, made the subject so fun for her that she not only fell in love with it but, like him, wanted to pay that love forward to students of her own. In 1999, after taking physics with Mr. Jones for three years, Ms. Chin walked up to him and asked, “How can I become you?” Then she followed the path he suggested, starting with getting a degree in physics and then applying for and getting a teaching job soon after graduating college.

Today, more than twenty years later, Mr. Jones works at the same school as Ms. Chin. They’re colleagues at American Heritage School – Broward Campus in Florida.  It’s a fact that makes her burst into the kind of contagious, delighted laughter that shows you exactly why her classes fill up as soon as they are offered, and why a student who has always disliked science now loves physics enough that he “had to make sure Ms. Chin was recognized for being such a great teacher and person.”

Drew Bank is one of those young people who is so determined to make the world a better place that he makes you miss your younger, more hopeful self within minutes of first meeting him. Drew, who’s taking Miranda Chin’s class as a high school Junior, saw an advertisement for Honored while scrolling through Instagram. His first thought was that it was the perfect way to reward Ms. Chin for everything she’s done for him and the other students at his school. This includes staying in during every lunch period so her students can come to her for help, then staying for an extra half hour after school every single day (when the school only requires teachers to stay one day a week for an hour of extra help) because it’s so important to her that every single one of her students gets what she’s trying to teach them.

When Drew took the class, despite Ms. Chin’s stellar reputation, he was convinced that science wasn’t something he enjoys. Drew dreams of a career in broadcast journalism and has hosted a morning show at his school since he was in fifth grade. Ms. Chin is almost as proud of Drew’s show as he himself is. It’s one of the things they connected over at the start of the school year. “She asks me about the show every single morning when I walk into class. She takes the time to watch it every day and then talks to me about what she enjoyed.”

“I’m not looking for perfection. I want them to keep trying until they get it, and I want them to love that process.”


Miranda Chin

Like everyone else, Drew enjoys being seen and feeling heard. It’s something Ms. Chin recognizes about all the children who step into her classroom. It is, in fact, at the heart of her philosophy as an educator. She sees each student as a whole person outside of just her subject and understands the power of feeling nurtured. Her ice breaker at the start of the year involves students making videos about themselves. The videos, which can get really fun and goofy, are just for her. She doesn’t share them with other students, but the exercise helps her get to know the person behind each student, and that’s something she puts great value in as they go through the year.

The school has a vibrant theater program and Ms. Chin makes it a point to attend every production her students are involved in and loves taking them flowers and meeting them after the show. The same is true of the Battle of the Bands and sports games. Watching her students’ eyes light up seeing her in the audience gives her as much joy as when their eyes light up when they understand a difficult physics concept they’re struggling with. It is those moments that make her cherish her job so very much.

To her, physics mimics life and understanding how the world around them works helps students understand problem solving in a way that they can use across all areas in their life. “Physics is like a toolbox,” she says. “Just as everything in the world is connected in the big picture, physics concepts, too, are cumulative. Knowing which tool to use when is the trick—when that clicks with a student, it just makes them so happy. And that’s the best thing for me to witness.”

While the love of physics takes center stage for her personally, Ms. Chin’s focus isn’t on just presenting the information to her students. It’s on getting them to not be intimidated by it, and to truly understand it so it contributes to their understanding of the world. “If a child keeps failing, they give up. But physics isn’t fundamentally hard to understand. It can be seen and felt.” 

Consequently, her classes are filled with cool demonstrations and hands-on labs and no lectures. The students get to see the concepts and play with them. Like the demo-based game everyone loves, where they swing a bucket of water in a circle without spilling a drop. The aha moment that comes with that thrills her as much as it does the students. “Those aha moments are everywhere once they start looking for them. As long as my students can walk out of my classroom seeing physics everywhere and understanding how things work, they’re learning.” She’s more interested in that than in grades. “I’m not looking for perfection. I want them to keep trying until they get it, and I want them to love that process.”

It’s an amazing life lesson, and she enables it by making even her grading interactive. Her students’ papers are full of notes from her. A conversation filled with encouragement and shared joy in learning, with hints and tips and excitement when they get something right. In a school that has over a hundred clubs and is filled with overscheduled kids, Ms. Chin has found the most ingenious way to get them to stop and think about the concepts she’s teaching by transforming papers and homework from something scary and static to a dynamic platform for connection. It’s the most poetic thing to have a science teacher wield words and notes in this beautifully old fashioned way. The best part is that it touches her students the way notes have done since the inception of written language.

“She’s the most selfless person. If I’m ever stressed I can go talk to her. If I’m working on something and can’t figure it out, she’ll help me find a solution."


Drew Bank

Drew, who felt no connection to science and struggled with his grades at the start of her class, now proudly owns his A. “I love her teaching methods and how available she is for help. Everything is interactive and she’s been there for me whenever I needed it. She’s taught me that it’s easy to excel at anything if you just try.” He believes the lesson extends beyond physics. “She encourages me to be a better person.” The thing Drew likes to focus on in his show is acts of kindness. It’s what he wants to carry with him into a career in journalism, seeking out stories of love and empathy amid all the hate in the world that seems to float to the top in today’s media. He finds that Ms. Chin embodies kindness in everything she does. “She’s the most selfless person,” he says. “If I’m ever stressed I can go talk to her. If I’m working on something and can’t figure it out, she’ll help me find a solution. I feel like I can rely on her and I’ve never had that with any other teacher. And she’s there for everyone. She doesn’t even take lunch for herself.”

What is truly heartwarming is that Ms. Chin knows exactly how important her being there is for these children, and sacrificing her lunch hour isn’t a hard decision for her. “It’s important to me to make myself available to my students and they’re so busy that not everyone can make it after school. It’s often a matter of that one extra conversation for everything to fall into place for them,” she says. “But more importantly, not all students are comfortable asking questions in class and putting themselves out there.” So, she puts herself out there for them. What greater act of kindness can there be?

Being presented with an inspiring teacher at the exact right moment in your life is considered one of the greatest gifts in ancient Eastern philosophical traditions. For someone like Drew, who like Ms. Chin also seems to know his purpose early, learning physics may not be crucial to his life plan, but learning what it looks like to love one’s work with a singular passion is something that will elevate anything he chooses to do.  “She’s taught me what it looks like to go above and beyond.”

The sweetest thing is that Drew’s regard for Ms. Chin is reciprocated fully. Drew was one of the three students Ms. Chin nominated for Classroom Awards at the school for the top three students. “We nominated each other without having any idea that the other was doing the same,” she says and calls him “mature, caring, and charismatic” and believes with all her heart that he’s going to be on TV one day.

An achievement she should take full pride in helping him pursue. Apart from modeling kindness and service, she’s also taught him a more practical skill that will prove priceless and foundational in succeeding at anything. “Another thing I’ve learned from her is how to be organized. I’ve never met a more organized person. Her room is so neatly laid out. Everything is labeled, everyone’s names are highlighted if they didn’t complete an assignment. Her files on the computer are also impeccably organized, and everything is planned out and available months in advance. It’s a class I worry least about because there’s no way to miss something.” Her organizational skills have been so helpful, that for the first time in a class, Drew has never missed an assignment.

"As long as my students can walk out of my classroom seeing physics everywhere and understanding how things work, they’re learning.”


Miranda Chin

That’s inspiration actively at work, and it seems to be a sentiment shared across her students—three of whom have gone into teaching physics themselves. Given her own path of being inspired by her own high school physics teacher, this feels like coming full circle to her. “It’s like circular motion in physics,” she says with her signature sincerity. In another example of circular motion, after enriching the lives of so many children, her oldest child will be taking her class next year, along with his entire friend group. True to character, she seems entirely thrilled at the prospect of having them in her classroom.

Her advice to parents of high school students is to enable their children to be independent. To let go and check in occasionally. To give them space to learn how to survive on their own out in the world while letting them know they’re treasured. That’s exactly how she approaches teaching, and I feel the greatest joy in knowing that her own child will have what all parents hope for when they send their children to school: a teacher as generous and passionate as Miranda Chin.

Photography by Katherina Sciuto

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