South Brunswick High School teacher makes computer science ‘Magic’

Steven Schiff, South Brunswick High School computer science
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Steven Schiff, South Brunswick High School computer science

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A computer science and math teacher at South Brunswick High School has been honored for serving the school community for 11 years.

“Anyone who hears his name always says he’s one of those guys who goes above and beyond both in and out of the classroom to make a difference,” Principal Peter Varela said of Steven Schiff when nominating him for Magic 98.3 FM’s “Teachers Who Make Magic” recognition.

“He knows computer science can be a challenging subject, so he takes the time to plan lessons that are easy to comprehend, and always leaves room for questions and answers. He encourages everyone to work hard so they’re capable of understanding and excelling in the field,” Varela said in the nomination.

With a degree in environmental and business economics and computer science from Rutgers University, and a master’s degree in education from Arkansas State University, Schiff taught himself how to design apps using online tutorials and an online course.

He began teaching at South Brunswick High School 11 years ago, about the same time he moved into town from East Brunswick.

At first he taught math, and then transitioned to computer science. Since 2010, the number of students enrolled in computer science courses has risen from 68 to around 700, according to school officials.

Currently, Schiff teaches three Advanced Placement computer science and three mobile application development courses. He hopes to teach virtual reality and game design next year.

“It’s cool to do things that are practical, like math,” Schiff said. “Everyone should have exposure to computer science in some way.”

He said the best part about teaching is the “Aha!” moment students experience when they finally understand a concept.

“It’s a lot of fun to help other people. It’s really gratifying to me. I think students, in general, get a lot out of it when you help them achieve what they want to achieve,” he said.

Schiff arranges field trips to tour companies and learn from accomplished professionals, and he arranges interviews for students seeking internships so they can get an early start in their career.

“He was proactive in getting three new courses in computer science added to the curriculum and it’s helped students decide what subject they would like to pursue in college,” Varela said.

“Steven understands the workload high school students have to do on a daily basis, and knows when to push them, and when to let them have a little fun. He’s very intuitive to all students’ needs, and is reasonable when assigning projects and conducting tests. He’s always available for guidance and advice, and will share ideas with fellow teachers and staff,” the principal continued.

Schiff said he was “shocked” when a colleague put the radio onto his computer so he could hear the announcement on Magic 98.3.

“It was awesome,” he said.

The awards ceremony will take place on April 2 at The Pines Manor in Edison.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.