Shipley’s Choice Elementary School’s Angela Miller was recently recognized for her outstanding work inside the classroom.
Miller is one of the 14 teachers from across the county who were named semifinalists for the 2020 Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in December.
She was honored for the recognition but equally humble and quick to shift praise toward her colleagues, staff and faculty at SCES. However, her principal says the recognition is well-deserved.
Dr. Beth Burk, Shipley's Choice principal, described Miller as one of the most thoughtful educators she knows.
“She is constantly reflecting about her instruction and how to best reach students individually,” Burke said. “She then applies her ideas to adjust her instruction and learning environment. Her instruction is consistently highly effective and engaging.”
Angela Miller | Second Grade | Shipley’s Choice Elementary School
Growing up in Long Island, New York, the Severna Park resident has wanted to be a teacher since being inspired in middle school.
“My sixth-grade teacher,” recalled Miller. “She made learning fun, and she was someone who I admired and looked up to and I thought, ‘I want to be just like her.’”
After graduating from Towson University, she started teaching in Baltimore County, and then spent a year teaching in the Caribbean before settling in her husband’s hometown of Severna Park. Miller began teaching at Shipley’s Choice in 2007, but she was “excessed” in 2009 and spent three years teaching at Arnold Elementary before the opportunity to return to Shipley’s presented itself. Originally a fourth-grade teacher with a focus on math, she’s now on her third year teaching second-grade students, which has brought a great sense of fulfillment.
“I get to have my kids all day,” she said happily. “I think I get to create more of a relationship with my kids because they’re mine; it’s like the Miller family here. I think I get to know my students much better than when I was in the intermediate grades, and we would only have a group for an hour a day or two hours a day.”
Having a group of energetic second-graders every day can seem like an overwhelming challenge, however, Miller sees countless opportunities to help develop young and curious minds - especially since having kids of her own.
“My favorite thing to teach is kindness. I like the hidden curriculum of character development,” Miller explained. “My lens changed when I had my own children - my kids are now in fourth grade and first grade, but the first year I taught second grade, my son was also in second grade. I looked at each of them as if they were my child, and just teaching them to be kind individuals and humans to each other; you don’t have to be best friends, but you do have to work together. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s how you're saying it.”
Curriculum-wise, she was always a math teacher and still loves to teach that subject to her class.
“There are just so many avenues to get to things,” she said. “You‘ve got to build that foundation and number-sense before they can do anything else and it’s so fun.”
And making learning fun helps her build relationships with the students.
“Building that relationship is key. I can get them to try and do anything once they trust me,” she said.
Making learning - and school - fun is even easier when you’re working alongside passionate and caring colleagues like Jill Derlink and Lindsey Gelinas, who both teach second grade at Shipley’s.
“We are friends inside and outside of school and we support each other in every possible way,” Miller said. “I really believe that I am successful because of them, and we’re successful together because we’re such a solid unit.”
However, Derlink is adamant that Miller is undoubtedly the team captain.
“She’s definitely our drive,” Derlink said. “With enthusiasm, work ethic; she’s our task master and fun creator.”
Gelinas concurred, saying that Miller is, “Hands down the most efficient person I’ve ever met in my entire life. She’s a great teammate. She has fabulous relationships with students with ease. Everything looks easy and it’s not.”
The three are definitely an energized and dynamic group, which is on display in the hallways from the moment the doors open every morning.
“When the bell rings at 8:45, all three of us go out there,” Miller said. “That’s the door that all the kids come in every morning - so we feel like it’s our job to start their day off - no matter what it’s going to be like later - we call them all by name.
“My old principal always used a saying, ‘lead with your heart,’ and that has been something that has been my mantra all along,” said Miller.
Following this mantra isn’t hard when working among what she says is an extraordinary group of staff, faculty, students and parents.
“This is where I knew I wanted to be,” she said. “We have the hardest-working teachers in this building who care so much about the students. We have the most support that one could ask for - whether it’s from our administration or the parents. Our community is so willing to do anything to support us teachers to make our days easier or better in turn to make it better for the kids.”
All of this is what truly sets Shipley’s Choice Elementary School apart.
“I think we’re sort of a little special place in the county and I’m lucky to be a part of it,” she reiterated. “They all want to say that I work so hard, and my drive - but that is ignited by the people that I am surrounded by. Every single teacher that is here and wanting to do great for our kids.”