Getting Psyched About Mr. Miarer
November 7, 2008 by Matthew Kilby
Stephen Miarer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to T.C. Williams, and is an asset to Alexandria City Public Schools in many important ways. Miarer attended high school in Ohio, and was a tri-athlete in basketball, golf, and track. He moved on to Grace College in Indiana, where he played on the basketball team and earned a double degree in Psychology and Sociology. While growing up, Miarer aspired to enter the field of politics. After graduating from college, he decided to move to D.C. to start working for the government. In addition to his government job, Miarer became involved in volunteer work with disadvantaged kids in D.C. who did not have positive opportunities or role models around them. This volunteer work and his enthusiasm for working with young people led Miarer away from the government, and he eventually landed at T.C. Williams as a government teacher and assistant varsity boy’s basketball coach. Currently, Miarer teaches both AP Psychology and Sociology here at T.C. He is in his seventh year of teaching at T.C. and his ninth year including his basketball coaching career. When asked about why he chose to take the road of teaching, Miarer replied, “I loved working with people and helping people.”
Besides being a full-time teacher, Miarer is also a full-time father of three children. He and his family live in Woodbridge, Virginia; after the bell at the end of the day he is one of the first people out of the school so he can rush home to see them. His commitment to his family is demonstrated when he brings his family in to school to meet every one of his classes. When asked why he is so open about his life outside of T.C., Miarer replied, “Kids get the opportunity to know who I really am.” The idea behind this philosophy is that hopefully his students will be able to relate to him more positively if they see him from a view besides that of a teacher. In his spare time, Miarer’s hobbies include playing basketball, spending time with his wife and kids, and working around the house.
Every year Miarer has the same goal as a teacher, “I want to teach the students, meet their needs, and develop a relationship.” From an educational standpoint, AP Psychology has the reputation as the “easy” or “fun” AP class. When asked about this reputation, Miarer explained that he believes the nature of Psychology is what makes the class fun, and that everyone can relate to the topic, he does not make the class fun or easy. In response to this, some people might ask, are kids actually learning? When asked about Miarer’s teaching style, Senior Ian McColm said, “Mr. Miarer is a dynamic teacher because he incorporates aspects of his life into his teaching style.” Miarer believes that class should not be work, work, work all the time, but that it can be fun, easy to understand, and it can allow students to learn a lot at the same time. On the first day of school, some teachers might give students their email address for questions or extra help, but in AP Psychology or Sociology, Miarer also gives his students his home phone number and his cell phone number. This is just one of the many ways Miarer connects with his students; he believes that by becoming approachable and available to his students, he can do a better job of teaching them and motivating them to succeed. As you first walk into Mr. Miarer’s classroom, one thing that stands out is the Dallas Cowboys pennant hanging on the board next to his desk. As you might imagine for devoted Redskins fans, this causes some heated football debates in the hallway and also in the classroom. Miarer actually looks at this as a positive thing because by poking fun at his students and letting them respond, a bond grows between them, which allows for a better educational and learning environment, along with a mutual respect for each other’s ideas and beliefs. Although some teachers prefer to keep a very established distance between their students, Miarer’s relationships are often lasting ones.
“I love to go back and visit [Miarer]” said senior Taylor Garner. “We had to stop by on Halloween to see his kids dressed up; they were adorable, and it’s fun to see what Mr. Miarer was dressed up as!”
This attitude is what keeps Miarer’s classes full and his students smiling.