Lori Miller, Gruening Middle School
2011 Educator STAR Award winner
Lori Miller teaches business education and SBP at Gruening Middle School. She is chair of the electives department, and highly respected by her students, peers, and administrators. As the SBP coordinator for over 15 years, Ms. Miller has fostered strong partnerships with a wide variety of Eagle River business and organizations, including US Army Alaska 3-509th, Super Suppers Eagle River, Kaladi Brothers, Sleepy Dog Coffee Co., Aurora Vending, Eagle River Rotary Club, Eagle River Job Center (DOLWF), Wells Fargo, and USKH.
Ms. Miller is a mentor and inspiration to teachers district-wide. Frances Lucas, SBP teacher at Romig Middle School, said, “Lori Miller is one of those rare individuals who leads by example. She has done a superb job with the School Business Partnership Program at Gruening and is an inspiration to us all. She is always helpful when I have a question and has that sort of can-do attitude that makes me think anything is possible.”
Her business partners agree. Terry Weight from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said, “ASD’s Lori Miller has been an outstanding School Business Partner...As far as I’m concerned, she sets the standard when it comes to interfacing business with the Anchorage School District.”
With Sharon Sellens (the original SBPC teacher) as her guide, Lori was the first teacher in the district to use the School Business Partnership model as an “entrepreneurial” experience instead of service learning. She developed the first student-run espresso shop in the district, which has become the model for all the other cafes in other middle and high schools. The ambitious SBP class at Gruening runs the Colt Café and produces the Gruening Broadcast News. She is a no-nonsense teacher who cares about her students and has earned their respect. Catherine, a current student, said, “She doesn’t tolerate slacking. She has taught me a lot of things. Those things include discipline, working hard, making drinks, and just have fun with your job. She is my favorite teacher at Gruening this year.” In addition to the core curriculum, students in Ms. Miller’s classes learn interview skills, promptness, customer service, problem solving, and teamwork.
Her students have produced training films in the past with the help of their business partners. These teach students the appropriate way to interview for jobs and communicate with adults. The DVD has been used by other teachers across the district in middle and high school.
Her smooth-running classes have not gone unnoticed by the administration at Gruening. Her principal, Bobby Jefts, said, “It has been my observation that Ms. Miller is innovative and dynamic in the classroom. She instills a joy of learning in her students that will benefit them throughout their lives. I have seen Ms. Miller aid without reprimand, correct without disparagement, and teach by example. She employs appropriate teaching strategies to promote student mastery of materials and instructional competencies. All of Ms. Miller’s tasks are done as a valued team player–successfully and professionally.”
With so many nominations and accolades, Lori Miller is the clear winner of this year’s Educator STAR award. Congratulations!