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Miller chosen as Mill Creek’s top teacher

Melissa Miller has a laugh with sons Nate and Yohannes. She is Mill Creek's Teacher of the Year. CONTRIBUTED
Melissa Miller has a laugh with sons Nate and Yohannes. She is Mill Creek’s Teacher of the Year. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Kindergarten teacher Melissa Miller is Mill Creek Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.

This past school year, Miller was pleasantly surprised when she “flipped” her classroom. She hoped for more instructional time but saw greater benefits.

“I sent weekly videos and practice file to my families and asked they view and practice before Monday and again on Wednesday as a midweek refresher,” Miller said. “Videos were demonstrations of weekly literacy stations.”

Watching demos yielded at least 30 more minutes of instructional time, modeled strategies for parents to assist their child and extra support to struggling students. “I’m so glad I did this,” Miller said.

“In kindergarten, the rewards come just about every second. I’m rewarded when students write their first word, then sentence, then paragraph and even more rewarded when they realize they can actually read it back. I’m rewarded when my students go from reading single words to reading passages,” she said.

“My students are a gift to me. My colleagues are a gift to me. I’m am truly grateful everyday to be a teacher,” Miller said.

Time constraints are her major challenge.

Miller was named Heritage’s Teacher of the Year in 2004 and received the 2009 Golden Apple Award.

One special student especially motivated Miller. “When I first met her, she couldn’t speak English and used a walker to safely navigate. This five-year-old was not stopped by any challenge. Her smile is infectious,” Miller said.

The student “worked her very hardest at everything (and) was kind and caring. When she fell down, she always popped up with a smile,” Miller said. “As her English improved, her sense of humor was revealed. ‘Silly, Mrs. Miller!’ she said when I made a mistake.”

By year-end, the student “barely needed her walker. I now strive to be just like her … determined, resilient, and oh, so silly,” Miller said.

Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in child development and psychology at Maryville College in Tennessee. She taught at Heritage from 1999 to 2009.

Her husband Ryan works at Teledyne Brown Engineering. Their sons, Yohannes, 9, and Nate, 7, attend Mill Creek.

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