Principal James Miller Announces Retirement

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Principal Jimmy Miller, center, stands with students during a recent pep rally. The students held signs honoring Mr. Miller as they watched a video about his impact on EL students and staff.

by Colby Birkbeck, ’16, and Evan Emerson, ’16

Recently, Principal James Miller III of Edward Little High School announced that he would retire at the end of the school year. “After 42 years of being in high school,” he said, “it’s time to graduate.”

Over the years, he made teaching not only his profession, but his hobby, Miller said. He never had the time to go hunting, or go fishing, or any other hobbies, because he put all of his time into teaching. Finding something to do is going to be his biggest challenge come retirement.

“Life comes with different levels,” he said. “You stay on one level for so long, and then you plateau, and then it takes something completely different to bring you up again. For me, it could be being a greeter at Walmart, or spending more time with my wife at our Florida home.”

Miller is happy with the successes in his career. “My biggest accomplishment in 40 years, I hope, would be giving the respect to students and staff that they give to me on a daily basis,” he said. If students ever passed Mr. Miller in the hallway, he always greeted them with “Good morning” and a handshake. He also noted that helping students figure out who they want to be and where they want to be is very important in being a principal, and that he hopes he created an impact on the students.

Pamela Davis, foreign language department head, said of Miller, “He’s been extremely supportive of us and our families, and has been a good friend to everyone here. We will all really miss him.”

Others had similar sentiments. “Mr. Miller has always been an empowerer,” said Pat Gauthier, librarian, “the person who encourages us to do the best that we can everyday. He has certainly been the best boss that I have ever had. Anytime you walk into his office to talk to him, the first thing he says is ‘Tell me something good’ because he wants us to focus on the positive rather than the negative.” Gauthier is also retiring this year.

Heidi McCurdy, librarian, said, “Hands down, he’s the most positive person I know. He always puts kids first, and I think that’s a hallmark of Edward Little.”

Miller missed very few days during his tenure here at EL. “Last Christmas, I spent it in Florida. On New Year’s, I was rushed to the hospital for my gall bladder. With the procedure, I missed about three or four days of school, and those were my first three or four days missed of my high school career.” He loves being here, he said, so that he could be someone students could go to with anything.

Miller has seen teaching styles change over the years. When he first started, he referred to the style as “Jeopardy-like.” “In Jeopardy” he said, “you need to know everything. That’s how it was in the beginning of my career, I needed an answer for everything. Nowadays, if I don’t know something, I just have to reach into my pocket, type in my question to Google, and there’s my answer.” He also mentioned how education can expand beyond just the four walls of a classroom, especially with the recently added agriculture class, allowing students to go out and explore in the real world. 

One thing he loved the most was watching students participate in activities that the school had to offer, he said, like sporting events, plays, and concerts, which he almost always attended.

The advice he has to give to his successor is: “Remember, this is a human business, in terms of students and staff. You have to remember to take care of the human needs, be personable, and listen. Along with listening, make sure you put into action what you say. People will respect you more if you do what you say you will sooner than later.”

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