Every week, Hiram College News will profile one faculty member. Check back at the beginning of each week for the new profile.
This week, we feature Jennifer Miller, associate professor of education and Director of Assessment for Hiram College.
What made you choose to teach at Hiram College?
I taught in the public schools for 13 years before I came here, and it was time for a change. I had my master’s and part of my Ph.D., and I had done a lot of side work, working with teachers and doing professional development. … I did not start with the goal of being a college professor in education, but when I saw the Hiram opportunity, I thought I could do it; it was what I was already doing with these other projects I was working with.
As a classroom teacher at a high school, I used to see 120 students a year. Now, I teach the teachers who are going to go out and teach in public schools. Hopefully I can now affect, through them, 10 times as many high school-aged students. I think that exponential effect is pretty darn cool.
What do you think about having a 12 and 3 week instead of a one 15-week semester?
I really like it. It works out nicely for us in education because we use that 3-week term for classes and field experiences that require us to get out into the schools. … I think it is especially important for people who want to be teachers to acquaint themselves with a full school day, to get there at 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning and be there the whole day and see what that whole arch of a teachers experience is like. You cannot do that on a regular 15-week calendar when you have a 1 o’clock class or a 3 o’clock class that you have to be back at school for.
How would you describe Hiram College students?
One of the things that I like most about Hiram College students is how much they love the college. The back and forth between the faculty loving working here and the students loving learning here is what makes the community that we have at Hiram.
What has kept you here at Hiram College?
There are so many things that have kept me here at Hiram, but the bottom line is the people that I work with – my faculty and staff colleagues and students. I tell students all the time (and I believe this deep in my heart) that you have to be passionate about what you do and you have to enjoy what you do, and if you are passionate and you enjoy it, you will not work a day in your life. I know that is a cliché, but it’s true. … I do not know anybody that I work with on the faculty side that is not passionate about what they do. Then the students come in, and find their passion, to join us in that. When that comes together then it is not like work anymore because we are all having a good time and yet exploring what we do. That is what keeps me here.
What are some of the typical career paths for student’s interested in majoring in education?
Of course most people come thinking they want to be classroom teachers first and foremost, but there are many other career avenues. We have our educational studies major now, which is very helpful for people who want to teach, but do not necessarily want to be a licensed public school teacher. … People think education is very narrow and that they have to be a classroom teacher, but really it is a lot broader than that.