Retired teacher can’t stay out of the classroom

HEREABOUTS beth sears

A decade after retiring from teaching, Jan Miller finds herself back in the classroom, both as a student and a volunteer.

The Troy-area woman volunteers at Forest and Heywood elementary schools in Troy. She and her husband, Jim, also regularly take classes at the University of Dayton’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

“She has that connection with kids,” said Cathy Drake, a first-grade teacher at Forest Elementary School. “They immediately respect and enjoy her.”

When Miller retired from teaching in 1999, she didn’t intend to return to the classroom. She had taught for 35 years and at grade levels ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade.

After retirement, she worked for the Victim Witness Program of the Miami County Prosecutor’s office. Later, she worked for a florist and utilized some of her flower gardening skills.

A presentation on Ireland and encouragement from friends nudged her back to the classroom.

“I taught with her for years,” Drake said. “She retired and we remained good friends.”

For St. Patrick’s Day, Drake invited Miller to her first grade classroom and asked her to give a 10-minutes presentation on Ireland. Miller and her family had traveled there recently. The 10-minute presentation about Ireland turned into a 40-minute presentation.

“For first graders, that’s a long time,” Drake said. “They were mesmerized.”

Miller brought photographs from the trip. She described details, such as the narrow roads and hedges that grew along them. After the presentation, the students wrote about the experience.

“She realized how she missed the kids, and I realized what a treasure she was,” said Drake, who asked Miller to come into the classroom and help with small group work.

“It makes it possible to do small groups,” Drake said. “It’s like having two teachers.”

Miller’s assistance in the classroom helps reach more students on a personal basis, Drake added.

Another colleague also asked for Miller’s help in the classroom, and Miller said yes.

“I think it’s wonderful that she wants to help kids,” said Bev Puthoff, a kindergarten teacher at Heywood Elementary School.

Miller also keeps busy with other projects, including tutoring a junior high school student, being the announcer and accountant for the Troy Skating Club, and knitting baby blankets for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Tipp City.