New Hope-Solebury School District has announced that kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Miller has been nominated for the 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. Her tireless dedication to fostering student growth, supporting her colleagues, and advancing the District’s educational initiatives have distinguished Mrs. Miller as an exemplary educator and deserving candidate for this important honor.
When you walk past Mrs. Miller’s kindergarten classroom in New Hope-Solebury Lower Elementary School, according to her colleague Mara Hess, there are key phrases you will hear her call in a voice filled with enthusiasm and energy, including but certainly not limited to:
“You are set up for success.”
“You are so respectful, responsible, safe, and kind.”
“When we work together, we are better.”
“Go out and be kind to make the world a better place.”
The school day in Mrs. Miller’s classroom begins with a lesson in leadership.
Among her students, she selects a GRIT Leader who will be given a host of responsibilities for the day, such as leading their morning meeting, running checks to make sure their peers are accounted for as they transition spaces, passing out papers, answering the phone, and leading the closing meeting.
The GRIT Leader is recorded leading the meetings and the videos are shared on a ClassDojo account (much like a Twitter feed) so the families can see their child shine. “As we prepare students to be contributing citizens of the world, it is critical they learn to stretch beyond their comfort zone, to support each other, and to be confident leaders. The GRIT Leader is an activity that helps students develop these important skills in a fun and encouraging way. We often echo the phrase, ‘Grit! Grit, we will not quit!’”
As demonstrated by the GRIT Leader concept, Mrs. Miller is committed to giving her students a voice, and she uses their voices to better understand their needs.
She poses questions to encourage and stimulate critical thinking, such as “How will this help our community?” and “When would this be important to use?” She shared that she learns the most by listening to students’ verbal reflections and by understanding their process for gaining knowledge.
On her ability to lead valuable dialogue in a classroom, LES Principal Mrs. Bloom observed, “Mrs. Miller makes sure her students own the conversations in the classroom, carefully crafting her lessons to involve self-discovery, inquiry-based learning, and further wonderings so the learning never really ends. It is such a privilege and pleasure to work with Mrs. Miller. She truly wants every child to succeed and works tirelessly to ensure all students needs are met.”
While Mrs. Miller makes the experience richer for her students, she is also a valued and inspiring colleague and active contributor to various District programs and initiatives.
She serves on multiple building-based and District-based committees, such as the Comprehensive Planning, Health and Safety, Career and College Pathways, and the Communications Advisory Council.
She is the Lower Elementary School’s literacy, math, and social studies representative and a member of both our School Wide Positive Behavior and Interventions, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support committees.
She is also one of the District’s Equity Coordinators, helping to plan and facilitate lessons in inclusion for grades K-5 and furthering the District’s goal of providing equitable access to all students.
As a member of the technology team, Mrs. Miller dedicates her summers to studying the latest technology trends and was a critical support to her colleagues at the onset of the pandemic. Fellow kindergarten teacher Karen Moeser reflected, “During the pandemic, our school began to utilize Canvas to streamline remote learning. Mrs. Miller learned to use the new technology and then shared her learning by hosting a teacher training event through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. She taught attendees how to make Canvas work and make it accessible to all grade levels. Mrs. Miller is the definition of a collaborative teacher, as she is always happy and willing to share her knowledge with others.”
Megan Lottier, whose daughter was a student of Mrs. Miller’s, shared reflections that demonstrate the strong connections she has made with both her students and her families, “Jackie Miller is both a great educator and an incredible person with a contagious attitude. She observes, listens, and incorporates creativity into her love for teaching, which has a lasting impact on her students, well after they leave her classroom.”
“As a teacher who is highly regarded by our students, families, colleagues, and community, we are delighted to see Jacqueline Miller recognized for her many contributions to our schools,” explained Superintendent Dr. Charles Lentz. “We are proud of her accomplishments and wish her well as the process moves forward.”
PHOTO CAP: Jacqueline Miller