Excellent Educator: Steve Mintz At Heilicher Mpls. Jewish Day School

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you have kids in school, you likely have a countdown to summer happening in your house. That means our Excellent Educator series is going on summer break too. But before we sign any yearbooks, we had one more teacher to surprise this year.

Mr. Steve Mintz at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School has the reputation of the fun, science teacher. He makes up dances to explain complicated concepts, even if it’s at the expense of embarrassing his daughter, who’s also his student.

That’s why Mintz is this week’s Excellent Educator.

Mintz hasn’t always taught science, but has fallen in love with subject since he began teaching it five years ago.

“The kids get really excited about everything from the parts of a plant to how cells work to for 8th graders chemistry and physics,” he said. “It’s how everything works.”

He teaches 7th and 8th grades, but really does much more. Mintz serves as the grades’ team coordinator, attends all student trips to Duluth and Washington D.C. and serves as chaperone during lock-ins.

“Seventh graders have an annual retreat and I sleep in my office over there so there is someone to watch them over night,” he said.

Being so involved, he says, helps him be a better teacher.

“Seeing the things they do outside of class helps me to know more about them and hopefully it helps people get to know me a little bit so we can have a better time learning,” he said.

It’s safe to say at least one student in his class already knows him quite well. Mintz has now taught two of his own four kids.

“It’s fun for me to see her learn and I know it’s a little harder for her to have your dad as a teacher, so I try not to share any embarrassing stories to put her over the top,” Mintz said.

When it comes to learning though, all bets are off.

“The waggle dance is the day she has been dreading because she heard about it from her sister who also had me and you know you don’t want to see your father do the waggle dance,” he said.

The waggle dance is a Mintz invention to explain how bees get their food. When the students laugh, they learn, and Mintz’s mission is accomplished.

“It really is watching kids understand something they didn’t understand before and seeing the excitement about learning something new,” he said.

More from Kim Johnson
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