By Jenny Shen ’23
Imagine scientists have built a biosphere for plantations where they can control everything – perfect sunlight, temperature, moisture level, soil, and the amount of water that plants get. Everything seemed so ideal and flawless, so how come the trees kept falling down after they reached a certain height?
“It was because there was no wind. A tree is going to get stronger and really be able to continue to grow and stand because it needs to fight the wind. It sways back and forth and that’s how it strengthens itself. It’s hard in the moment when things are going downhill, but that adversity, that difficulty, in the end, is good for you. Struggle is nature’s way of strengthening. Obviously it’s easier said than done, but trying to live in the moment and just be present is really good too.” This is an analogy, a metaphor for life that Mr. Milano wants to share with the rest of the school.
Mr. Milano, who grew up in Guilford, CT, has entered his fourteenth year of teaching high school Mathematics. In 2009, Mr. Milano graduated with a BA in Psychology at Williams College. Based on the deep relationships he had with former professors, teachers, and coaches, along with his enthusiasm for Education and Social Psychology, Mr. Milano knew immediately that he wanted to go into coaching and teaching. He played football and baseball in high school, and was able to continue playing football in college. One of the coaches that Mr. Milano had made a huge impact on his life, so he wants to return the favor and hopefully make an impact on students’ lives like his coaches did for him. As a result, Mr. Milano accepted his first job out of college at Canterbury, where they had a math teaching position open, and he has been teaching Math ever since.
When asked the reason he chose to come to the FGS, Mr. Milano responded: “I do believe in small boarding schools. I think those are great environments for students to grow and learn, and so I think the main reason was the location. Washington, CT is a really nice town, it’s a small town. We are really excited for our children to be in that school system. I love it so far. I really enjoy working with the students. Another reason why I love it here is the surroundings, the nature, like being able to walk to Steep Rock.”
During his career at boarding school, Mr. Milano coached a variety of sports from football, baseball, wrestling, basketball, intramural, to ultimate frisbee, which he will coach alongside Ms. Rimany this upcoming spring term. Now, Mr. Milano lives on campus with his wife and three children (1, 2, and 4), as well as a dog and a cat. During the school days, Mr. Milano teaches Calculus, Geometry, and Algebra II. After school he is one of the dorm parents for Gunn House. Over winterim, he taught The Great Escape Room with Mr. Hunt. Recalling his experiences, Mr. Milano expressed: “That was awesome, and one of the things that was cool was that I had not taught any of the students. Being new at a school, you don’t know a lot of the students, so it’s great to get to know a new group of students. Mr. Hunt was an expert in escape rooms but I didn’t know much about it, so it was like a learning experience for me too. I think in the end, one thing you learn as a teacher is that you continue to be a student, which is something I really enjoy.”
Near the end of the conversation, Mr. Milano shared one fun fact about himself with me. Before he decided to become a teacher, he wanted to get into sports broadcasting. As a result, Mr. Milano worked as an intern at ESPN and NBC Sports. During these exciting experiences, he met a lot of athletes, worked with fascinating people, and learned how the production of a sporting event takes place: the research, the preparation, and then the actual telecast of the game where every camera angle need to be delicately adjusted and all the content of the show needs to be carefully designed.
Lastly, for all the students who are struggling in their Math classes right now, Mr. Milano wants to say: “All you are is all you need. Wherever you are with Math, that is all you need. Math is a universal language that allows you to progress and move forward with only enthusiasm and persistence. Even though it might be difficult for a lot of folks, no matter what, if you are able to put in the effort, you will learn and you will grow. Math is all around us, whether you realize it or not you are doing it all the time.”