COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Juanita Miller, the community education director for Centreville Public Schools, will be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year after more than 30 years with the school district. Miller oversaw many education programs in her time with Centreville.

Miller to retire after three decades with Centreville schools

Published Feb. 1, 2020

 

CENTREVILLE — When the retirement letter for longtime Centreville Public Schools Community Education Director Juanita Miller came up on Monday’s CPS Board of Education agenda, the board jokingly tried to skip past it at first.

Once the letter was brought up, there was a bit of good-natured hesitation by the board members to make a motion to accept her resignation, a sign of Miller’s dedication and commitment to the education of kids and adults in Centreville in her more than 30 years with the school district.

Miller was a graduate of Centreville High School, and she said at first she never thought she would come back to Centreville.

“Life happens,” Miller said.

In 1989, Miller was hired to coach junior varsity volleyball at Centreville High School, and after a couple of years was hired through Centreville Community Education to teach the Adult Basic Education program at Fairview Nursing Home. She described the program as having an “emphasis on education courses that stimulated the students' minds.”

Afterwards, Miller said she became a secretary for the Community Education program, while also teaching some night school classes. In 1995, after the director of the program at the time moved on to a different job, Miller became the director of the Community Education program. In 2006, she returned to the classroom and taught some alternative education classes for ninth through 12th graders. She said she strived to help those students “find their niche” in her role to help them find success.

“I feel like I'm a person that's a good listener and can maybe help them troubleshoot some things, find success and be a positive role model for individuals that may not have high self-esteem of themselves,” Miller said.

Growing up, Miller said she had many positive role models that made her want to become a teacher in the first place. She said she had “excellent” teachers growing up, and praised them for how they were able to teach the other students in her classes. She also credited her parents as inspirations.

“My dad had a very strong work ethic. He was not a teacher, but he worked in a school as maintenance," Miller said. “Then my mom, she was a stay-at-home mom, but was very supportive of us being involved in different activities.”

The combination of those influences who Miller said helped people often, helped plenty with her career, which saw her oversee many different programs at CPS, including Community Education, the Alternative Education program, the district’s jail program, and before- and after-school care program.

The thing Miller did enjoy the most about her time at CPS was the wide variety of programs she worked at, but she said it was also something she “struggled with” at times.

“It was hard balancing them, but I just felt like I could give something back to them or help them realize their potential, that they do have potential even though they may be struggling with things, that you can overcome those and get support and help,” Miller said.

Miller said she will miss the people and students she has worked with over the years.

“it's probably be three years since I actually taught alternative education in terms of the program, but I do miss them even though they're a challenging group,” Miller said. “They have unique and fun personalities, and I think the students I worked with have opened my eyes to things that I could do to be more helpful to them, and that my ways are not always right. I have to look at other avenues to bring to them so they want to learn and are encouraged to stay in school.”

Miller plans to travel and spend time with her family once she’s officially retired on July 1, and is looking forward to visiting many of the different national parks in the United States.

“I haven't been to some of the parks in the northwest or Washington,” Miller said. “Southern California, there's some I haven't been to there, but I have visited a lot.”

Many of the CPS school board members praised Miller for her work over the years during Monday’s meeting.

“Thank you for your many, many years of service to Centreville Public Schools,” Board President Jeff Troyer said to Miller. “We wish you the very, very best.”

“I’m going to greatly miss her,” Superintendent Stephanie Lemmer said. “Juanita has been so many things to so many different kids who would’ve otherwise been written off. I don’t know if there’s any way to truly put a value on the impact you’ve had on students who might’ve otherwise been marginalized from our school or community, so there’s definitely a legacy here for the work you’ve done, and I appreciate you for that.”

Miller told the board she was thankful for the opportunity to work for the district.

“I have enjoyed being a part of community ed and what it stands for and working with wonderful staff and enjoyed working with the students,” Miller said. “I have enjoyed it.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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