Teacher Feature – Tap into Miller

Jordan Cole-Terry

Teacher+Jenefer+Miller+is+full+of+surprises.

submitted by JMiller

Teacher Jenefer Miller is full of surprises.

Jordan Cole-Terry, Writer, Videographer

Meet Jenefer Miller.

She’s one of Desert Vista’s English teachers

She teaches English at the moment, but used to teach theatre and still teaches dance too!

Miller graduated from Oakland University with a Bachelor of Arts in the Performing Arts. She also has a Masters’s in Education from the University of Phoenix. Miller is continuing her love of learning. I’m working on my third college degree,” she said. “Getting a degree in Viticulture and Enology.”

With 30 years of dance and 18 years in public education under her belt, Miller has been working at Desert Vista for the last 7 years. But teaching isn’t the only thing that keeps Ms. Miller busy. She is a professional tap dancer, an avid hiker, and a camper and she enjoys cycling. But get this, that’s not all!

“I am a DIY-er!” Miller said. “I have built fences, patios, walls, remodeled a bathroom, etc. I love learning how to do things around my house myself and love saving money in the process!

Jordan Cole

Her inspiration to become a teacher was her own high school English teacher, Mrs. Lilley, and her history teacher Mr. Cyrus. “They were both so caring and kind- so smart,” Miller said. “They made me see life differently. Inspired me!”

Miller admits her favorite part of teaching is working with students on their writing and helping them grow and mature. She loves to share with her students writers and poets who inspire her. 

“Just yesterday, I got a message from a former student letting me know he is majoring in English and also that he signed up to take a writing class with one of my favorite poets, Rudy Francisco.”

She said this made her smile.

There is another side to teaching though. It’s the hard parts. For Miller, it is breaking the barrier for students who come to class thinking English is going to be boring and/or they don’t think they are good readers or writers. She enjoys changing their minds!

When it comes to the best advice anyone has ever given her on teaching, she believes in being reflective. “Take care of yourself and your body so you can be the best teacher possible,” she said.

It is her goal to always keep herself moving so she never gets burned out. “I’ve taught 3rd and 4th grade, middle school ELA, history, and theatre, high school theatre, and high school English! When I start to feel like I’m not learning anymore, I like to switch it up so I can grow.”

A good school day for Miller is when students are engrossed in-class discussion and begin sharing ideas with one another. She likes to lean back and listen to their ideas and believes there is nothing better than having involved students.  She shows her school spirit by supporting our Arts programs, sports, and clubs. Ms. Miller always tries to attend her student’s games and cheer them on!

When asked which teacher’s class she’d enroll in for a day, Ms. Miller responded, “Katrina Montoya, because she reminds me of my teacher Mrs. Lilley. She’s the real deal. Kids love her and learn so much from her.” (As a student of Mrs. Montoya, I agree!) She also noted, “I’ve always wanted to observe Ron Clark teaching!”

Ms. Miller’s idea of a perfect vacation is somewhere in the wine regions of France! However, she believes there are many possibilities for dream vacations, and in summer, is usually traveling to different cities teaching tap or performing tap with live jazz musicians. Or, is right here in Arizona at home here in her pool! 

To keep herself in good spirits, Ms. Miller hikes as often as humanly possible. She loves being out on the trails and climbing!

Ever wondered what Hogwarts house your English professor sorts themselves into? Ms. Miller says she’d be a Hufflepuff, as she believes in hard work, patience, loyalty, and fair play.

 Ms. Miller shares another piece of advice, stating  “You can do anything you want if you get creative. Life is full of opportunities and it is never too late to learn something new!”

Miller says she misses the Multi-cultural event she had when she taught at Akimel A-al Middle School. For years, it was a huge event that incorporated foods, art, and performance of all sorts of different cultures. Ms. Miller states, “It was a blast and I hope we can have large events like this at DV again one day soon!” She hopes one day she can see our Arts programs collaborate on a festival of art project. 

In order to get to know her better, and. Miller shares one last detail about herself, “I am highly sensitive. I can sense when someone else is having a bad day and I like to make people feel better”