Jessamine Career and Technology Center’s RaAnn Miller was named Kentucky’s career and technical teacher of the year last month, just two years after coming back to the district she calls her “home away from home.”
Miller grew up four hours west in Smithland and attended Murray State University before beginning her education career 12 years ago as a family and consumer science teacher at West Jessamine High School.
Despite being a generation or two younger than most of the teachers at the school, Miller said the staff took her in and nurtured a new teacher who had never been in Jessamine County before.
“One of them took me around and showed me where I would go get my groceries for teaching foods, if I needed to go to Ace, where that was, because I didn’t know anything about the whole county, and they just really took care of me and made sure that they could help me be successful in those first few years,” Miller said. “They made me feel like one of them, so that’s why I always say this is like my home away from home. They all took care of me in any way.”
Five years into her job at West High, Miller was involved in the foundation work for the development of an early-childhood pathway at the new Jessamine Career and Technology Center, even working with the architects on what the family and consumer science classrooms would look like. But Miller’s husband’s job took the family back to Paducah, where she taught three years at Livingston Central High School. She also taught one semester of college at her alma mater.
“It’s a whole different atmosphere, but it’s nice now to see that some of those students I had in college are now in the classroom teaching the same thing I am, so that’s a neat experience and opportunity,” she said.
After two years in the state education department as a program consultant, Miller came back to her second home to teach at JCTC, where she is getting ready to start her third year.
Miller said she was very surprised to find out she had won the Kentucky Farm Bureau Career and Technical Education award as career and technical teacher of the year. The awards were presented at the annual Kentucky Association for Career and Technical Education conference in July.
“I know that there are other teachers out there who are probably more worthy than I am, better qualified, and for me to get it was a surprise — a good surprise, though,” she said.
Miller was nominated for the award by her professional group, the Kentucky Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. The award announcement referenced her work to build the partnership between child-care classes at JCTC and the preschoolers and kindergartners right next door at Jessamine Early Learning Village.
“They love us, because it’s an extra set of hands in the classroom, and then our kids here at the high-school level get to see what a real teacher is like in an early-childhood setting. It’s a wonderful process,” Miller said.
JCTC principal Dexter Knight said it was thanks to fellow teacher Jennifer Hulette that the school managed to get two family and consumer science teachers; he said Hulette and Miller have done an excellent job giving students hands-on experience in child care at JELV.
“That has been a great program for JCTC, a much-needed program and a great partnership with the Village,” Knight said. “It’s very important for those folks who are going into early childhood education or child care, who have any interest in working with really young people, it’s a great pathway for those high-school students.”
Miller said the material she teaches includes relevant life skills for almost anyone.
“I love what I do. I love career and technical education; I love family and consumer sciences,” she said. “And I see the benefit, no matter what a kid’s going to do ... if you’re just going to be a parent, the information you’re going to learn can help a lot.”
Miller and the other three recipients of the awards are now nominated for recognition in 2013 from the national Association for Career and Technical Education.