Miller: GC schools the place for me

11/17/2013

Editor's note:This is the fourth in a series of profiles of the six finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.

Editor's note:This is the fourth in a series of profiles of the six finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Summer Miller doesn't just teach her orchestra class, she brings it to life.

"Raise your eyebrows," she said to her Kenneth Henderson Middle School students Friday morning, as they rehearsed a song.

Miller said that doing something physical like that helps the kids play more enthusiastically, when needed.

"It helps if you feel it," she said.

Miller is one of the finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.

"There are a lot of teachers in our district, and to be nominated as one of the top six — well, to be nominated at all and then to go from the top 12 to the top six is a great honor," she said. "I'm humbled and honored all at the same time."

Not only does Miller teach orchestra at KHMS, but she also teaches at Horace Good Middle School and Garden City High School, and in total, she has 195 students this year.

"I start at the high school, and then I come here and teach two classes, the seventh- and the eighth-grade, and then I have lunch, and then I go to Horace Good and teach a seventh- and eighth-grade class," she said.

The energetic Miller has been jumping between schools since she began teaching orchestra in 2000.

"I started teaching at semester because there was no orchestra teacher to be found, and they were about to cancel the program and the community rallied — that was back in the fall of 2000 — and so I applied and like a day later, and then they asked when I could come interview. So, I've been here ever since. I moved here in January, met my husband in February and we were married in December of that year," she said. "So, I have no doubt that this is where I'll spend the rest of my career."

Miller comes by her passion for teaching naturally. She said that her mother and her father's mother were teachers and that both her brother and her sister-in-law are also teachers.

Miller obtained her undergraduate degree in music education at Baker University and her master's degree in music at Kansas State University.

She said that it is simple for her to connect with her middle schoolers, in particular.

"I think I'm eternally 13. I'm just trapped inside an adult body, and so you can be silly, but at the same time, they know you're an adult figure," Miller said.

She said that another reason she knows she's in the right place is the dramatic increase in enrollment she has seen over the years.

"I've kept track of my numbers all these years, and I did a graph, and we had about 140 kids in the program when I started here, grades five through 12. We have 403 this year. So we've almost tripled our numbers," she said. "I have no doubt that this where I'm supposed to be. I feel like this is my calling in life, and because I'm being obedient to that, the program has been blessed."

Miller said she gets a lot of help with her busy schedule from fifth- and sixth-grade orchestra teacher Claire Schreiner and high school band teacher Mandy Tomlinson.

The other five finalists for this year's Crystal Apple award are Karen Kyler, Garfield Early Childhood Center; RoseMary Erives, Buffalo Jones Elementary School; Alexander Koning, Kenneth Henderson Middle School; Tamillia Moore, Edith Scheuerman Elementary School; and Tammy Ueke, Victor Ornelas Elementary School.

The award is given annually to top educators in Finney County. The CARE (Community Awareness and Recognition in Education) Task Force of the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce revealed the 2013 finalists in October.

The top three finalists will be announced during a banquet Thursday at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave., and will receive an engraved crystal apple, $1,000 cash award and other prizes. The other three finalists will receive a cash award of $250.

For more information, call Myca Bunch at the Chamber at 276-3264, or email mbunch@gcnet.com.

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