Meet Amy Miller

Working+together--+Freshman+Jake+Brickner+works+with+English+Department+Leader+Amy+Miller+during+a+read+aloud+speed-dating+exercise.+Miller+began+working+at+the+high+school+on+October+31.
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Meet Amy Miller

Working together-- Freshman Jake Brickner works with English Department Leader Amy Miller during a read aloud speed-dating exercise. Miller began working at the high school on October 31.

Working together-- Freshman Jake Brickner works with English Department Leader Amy Miller during a read aloud speed-dating exercise. Miller began working at the high school on October 31.

Kristy Pan

Working together-- Freshman Jake Brickner works with English Department Leader Amy Miller during a read aloud speed-dating exercise. Miller began working at the high school on October 31.

Kristy Pan

Kristy Pan

Working together-- Freshman Jake Brickner works with English Department Leader Amy Miller during a read aloud speed-dating exercise. Miller began working at the high school on October 31.

Allen Haugh, Editor-in-Chief

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Can you describe where you’re coming to this position from?

I’ve been teaching for a while: most recently at Amity High School in Woodbridge, CT (Amity is a regional school for Woodbridge, Orange, and Bethany.) I was there beginning in 2009 as a full-time English teacher. Prior to that, I was an English teacher in Kansas City, Missouri and Washington, DC, teaching in small urban charter schools; and prior to that, I taught internationally in both Costa Rica and for a year in South America teaching in Chile and Argentina as an undergraduate. I’ve had a long career of teaching in very diverse communities, but I grew up in Connecticut. This is a bit of a roundabout way of coming home and settling down.

How much did “coming home and settling down” factor into your decision to teach here?

Farmington is actually a new part of the state for me. I grew up in Fairfield County, and I’ve been living in New Haven for nearly a decade. I’m exploring this part of the state now, but I’m definitely a Connecticut girl, through and through. I knew that I wanted to leave and then come back home eventually, and I pretty much did exactly what I thought do.

Can you tell me what your role here is, and what it entails?

Being department leader is a really nice bridge between the world of teaching and the world of administration. We’re in a unique position where we still teach part-time and also handle some of the administrative duties for our department, and also help build the capacity of the teachers within our department. I’m a teacher primarily, but in addition to that I also work on communicating between administration and the members of my faculty and my department, and on continuing the work of the department in aligning with what the school and the district are trying to do.

Could you describe a few of those administrative and district initiatives that you’re trying to advance?

In the English Department, we’re really involved with the heterogeneously grouped [de-leveled] classes. We moved the 9th grade English classes to being completely heterogeneous this year, and we’re moving to 10th and 11th grade being [heterogeneous] as well. We’re being very purposeful in making the curriculum equitable, accessible, and challenging for all students. That’s really the drive of all of our work this year.

English is mandatory for all students. What changes can students expect to see in this year?

That’s a great question. Students can expect that we’ll be working to ensure that there are different pathways to success in all of our classes, that students are connecting with and being challenged by the curriculum no matter what their past experiences are in English or their strengths or weaknesses are.

To do that, we’re focusing on our expectations in writing and what it should look like in different grades so we can focus on reinforcing and challenging students at a greater level. Obviously, we care about writing a lot. But we want to make sure that we have a clear vision for how that’s happening over all four years.

You’ve been here for nine days now. What has your experience here been like so far?

The English and History Office where we’re sitting right now is a really fascinating kind of experimentation for me. I’ve always operated in schools where people operate more in silos, and this is one of the things that drew me to the district.

In my educational leadership program, we did a site visit to Noah Wallace. We were listening to the principal, Kelly Sanders, speaking there about the “teaming” that goes on grades 8-12. Just the way the teachers collaborate here kind of blows my mind, because even though I taught in three different schools across the country, I had never seen anything like it. Watching teachers and students working together here any period of the day and focused on what we’re trying to do in meaningful ways is really exhilarating.

Is there anything about you that you think people should know?

I’m a huge Michigan fan – I went there during undergrad; I’m also a huge fan of the New York Giants. I have an insatiable sweet tooth. I’m both cautious and sometimes very involved with taking risks. I’ve been skydiving three times, two of them abroad.

I really live my life by this mantra that was given to me by my mentor when I was living in Santiago, in Chile. In Spanish, he said, “A donde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina,” which roughly translates to, “Where the heart longs to go, your feet will follow.” And now they’ve taken me here.