New Hope-Solebury School District kindergarten teacher Jacqueline Miller has been nominated for the 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.
Her dedication to fostering student growth, supporting her colleagues, and advancing the district’s educational initiatives have distinguished Miller as an exemplary educator and deserving candidate for this important honor.
When you walk past 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 Miller’s classroom begins with a lesson in leadership. Among her students, she selects a GRIT Leader who will be given responsibilities for the day, such as leading the morning meeting, running checks to make sure all are accounted for as they move to different 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.
“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!’”
Miller is committed to giving her students a voice, and she uses their voices to 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 said that she learns the most by listening to students’ verbal reflections and by understanding their process for gaining knowledge.
On Miller’s ability to lead valuable dialogue in a classroom, LES Principal Jennifer 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.”
Miller 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 the 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, 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.”