On a brisk fall day in October, in the Tan advisory, sophomores Greg Henrici and Samsara Shrivatava sat down with Mr. Tan to ask him some questions about Millennium and him as a person, with hopes of educating students on who Mr. Tan really is. One of the strongest takeaways from the interview with Mr. Tan was his life’s focus on health. “I mean, honestly, I feel like [my profession influences my personal life] a lot because I’m a health teacher and also a Phys Ed teacher, it makes me feel motivated, I feel like I have to be the par to (a health goal for students).” This year is Mr. Tan’s second year as a health and physical education teacher at Millennium. Mr Tan has quickly become a student favorite, within less than two years he has been part of the Millennium staff, and both faculty and students are excited to have him around for a long time.
For Mr. Tan, health has always been a significant aspect of his life and it eventually was what drew him to his career. He continued to talk about his health profession impacting his personal life habits, “If I’m teaching [health], I can’t be a hypocrite. In terms of even snacks now, I get guilty when I eat them, because I’m like, oh man, what would my kids think if they saw me eat these chips. Every so often I will be tired after work, and I go, do I really need to go to the gym, but then I think about my students… what if they found out that I skipped the gym, so it makes me motivated to go… Also, everyone here has a pretty good energy, high energy, so I think that kind of makes me high energy too, and it brings up my naturally somber mood.”
At Millennium, we as students are inherently put in a position to learn from and be influenced by the words and actions of our teachers, advisors, and coaches, but what Mr. Tan declared here represents how Millennium is a two way street for students and teachers. Mr. Tan explained how his students motivate him to work harder and be a happier person and how seeing his students act on his advice, influences him as well.
Another defining factor in Mr. Tan’s life is his professional environment. The environment he teaches in is crucial, as it determines the attitude and organization of the students and teachers. Millennium, when compared to other schools, was described as a (by Mr. Tan), “far more structured [school] with a student body that is far more motivated and prepared, … it gives me a prime example of what a school should be.” Additionally, when correlating his high school experience at Brooklyn Technical High School with Millennium, Mr. Tan stated, “Brooklyn Tech is like 5,000 kids, so it’s very big. I feel like in a place like Tech, where you have that many students, more things just kind of slip through the cracks. I feel like here it’s far more close knit. I can’t say for sure if the adult-student ratio is the same, or less, or more at Tech, but I feel like here we have a very high adult-student ratio.… we [the teachers] can keep tabs on the students much more, but at the same token the kids have more accessibility to the adults, whereas when you’re one kid at Tech… you’re gonna get lost in the crowd. I would venture to say it’s probably more productive if you’re in a smaller, tight knit school.”
Like any teenager, Mr. Tan had a different perception of high school teachers when he was a student. “I always thought teachers didn’t know what they were talking about… but I feel like as I’ve gotten older…teachers know a certain amount and I think it is up to the student to seek out specific teachers for specific things. I used to think teachers were impatient, but now that I’m also a teacher, I’ve learned that it’s not that teachers are impatient but it’s just that it is a very hard task managing thirty five personalities and thirty five needs in a fifty minute period all the time.”
Mr. Tan teaches health class and gym class at Millennium. His classes are always interactive and include high energy participation from students, whether in the gym or the classroom. He encourages students to feel comfortable in sharing and working to their full potential by creating an atmosphere that is both fun and professional. In gym class, he pushes his students to exercise to their limits while letting them listen to music and choose activities. Similarly, in health class, his students participate in classwide discussions and take unit tests, but also get to enjoy putting on health-related skits and playing games.
We finished the interview with Mr. Tan by asking him about a few fun facts we thought students might be interested to know. When he is not teaching, some of Mr. Tan’s favorite activities are, “Listening to podcasts, watching movies, going to the gym, and occasionally reading. His favorite foods are pizza and ice cream, and he enjoys the NFL, as well as numerous combat sports, such as wrestling. Also, Mr. Tan was happy to speak about his favorite TV show, The Wire, which he said was “The greatest television show of all time,” in his opinion.