New Elementary Ed. professor hired

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New Elementary Ed. professor hired

Hannah Miller on a tree-planting trip in Inner Mongolia

Hannah Miller on a tree-planting trip in Inner Mongolia

courtesy of Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller on a tree-planting trip in Inner Mongolia

courtesy of Hannah Miller

courtesy of Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller on a tree-planting trip in Inner Mongolia

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Johnson State recently hired Hannah Miller as an assistant professor of elementary education. She will join the faculty in the upcoming fall semester.

“Hannah Miller is currently finishing up her doctoral work in Curriculum and Instruction, with a focus on elementary education, at Michigan State University,” said Education Department Chair Kathleen Brinegar, who co-chaired the search committee responsible for hiring Miller.

“She taught for seven years in China, largely science at the elementary level,” Brinegar continued, “but has experience teaching K-12 in China as well. She’s super energetic. She’s an avid researcher. She’s not afraid of large grants. She seems to be really strong at tying her research work into her teaching.”

“I started my career as a teacher in China,” said Miller, “where I taught for 7 years. I started as a high school and middle school teacher, but then I found a job at an elementary school in Shanghai that wanted to turn itself into the ‘greenest’ school in the city. They hired me — as a science teacher — to help them do that. We decided to make urban organic gardening the center of the school’s transformation. The students designed the gardens, built them out of recycled materials, and then grew food in the garden. We integrated the garden into the entire school’s curriculum — social studies, math, language arts, art, and science.”

While her interview for the position at the college was the first time she had been to the Green Mountain State, Miller said that she’s been eying Vermont for a while now. “The state of Vermont was on my radar for some time as a potentially fabulous place to invest in a life and career,” said Miller. “My scholarly background is in environmental and sustainability education, and Vermont has long been recognized as a leader in North America for integrating issues of the environment and sustainability across the curriculum, and I’m excited to learn from the best.”

Miller said that she particularly likes the idea of working for a public liberal arts college, emphasis on public. “I appreciate public institutions’ dedication to preparing students to become informed and engaged citizens in a democracy,” said Miller. “It is my position that education should be for and about social change, and so I am interested in working with college students to figure out how to use their education to effect positive change in their communities and the world.

“I am also a big advocate for the liberal arts,” Miller continued. “Liberal arts institutions have an ideological commitment to interdisciplinary thinking that I believe will be crucial for addressing the most pressing issues in our local and global communities — climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental and racial justice.”

Miller has a creative teaching style and is skilled at engaging with her students, as well as encouraging their active participation in lessons.

Brinegar described an example of this that took place during Miller’s interview for the position. “She walked in,” said Brinegar, “gave a whole lesson in Mandarin Chinese, and you can imagine everybody’s like, ‘What is going on here?’ But everyone was totally engaged because they’re like, ‘What is this person doing?’ So then she says, in English, ‘Okay, I’m going to teach the same exact lesson again in Mandarin, but this time I’m going to use the strategies that I learned to work with people who are not primarily English speakers.’ So she did the entire lesson again. This time we were in small groups and we were all able to do a science experiment, and she only gave the directions in Mandarin Chinese.”
Miller also expressed her excitement at the opportunity to work at a smaller college. “I am thrilled that JSC is so small,” she said. “I love teaching, and I hope that being in a small school will allow me to get to know my students.”

Brinegar appeared to be very satisfied with the selection committee’s decision to hire Miller. “I really just think she’s going to be a wonderful fit for JSC,” she said.

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