TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Danielle Miller uses small groups for success

Published 8:00 am Friday, February 10, 2023

This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors. 

Danielle Miller, a math teacher at South Park Elementary School, keeps her students engaged by working in small groups or centers.

“I feel as though this learning strategy helps my students remain engaged and achieve goals I set before them,” she said. 

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Miller is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year award. The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon on Feb. 15. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union. 

Miller began teaching in 2005 as an elementary music and Spanish teacher at Park Place Christian Academy in Pearl. In 2006, she was a second and third-grade teacher’s assistant at Flowood Elementary in Flowood. Miller then taught at The Education Center School in Jackson as an elementary teacher in 2008.

Starting in 2009, she was a fifth-grade teacher and interventionist at Brown Elementary in Jackson. Miller then was a special education assistant at Northwest Rankin Elementary in Flowood in 2012.

Also in 2012, Miller went back to the Education Center School as an elementary math and music teacher. In 2016, she began teaching at Sherman Avenue Elementary as a music teacher.

Then in 2018, Miler moved to South Park Elementary as a third, fourth and fifth-grade math teacher.

Miller received her bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. She then got a master’s degree in elementary education from Mississippi College. 

In Miller’s classroom, students that work in small groups have the opportunity to use dry-erase markers on their desks when solving math problems. She also teaches students to set goals on what they would like to achieve.

“We collaborate weekly to set our goals, discuss what is needed to achieve our goals and celebrate the success of our goals once met,” Miller said. 

Miller explained in her application that when her students work together to solve problems and meet their goals, they build better relationships with each other.

“Working together to solve problems and achieve goals also helps students to build relationships with other students in the classroom, and I believe that building relationships and confidence in my students is key to their continued success,” she said. 

She also rewards her students for their participation and achievements on a weekly basis and sometimes does something extra special at the end of benchmark exams.

“Each week we celebrate goals with a trip to the class treasure box. On a larger scale, after our fall benchmark, we celebrate our success with a “Pie in the Face Day” where students who achieved a proficiency of “Advanced” or “Proficient” were allowed to “smash” a whipped cream pie into the face of myself,  a coach or another teacher of their choosing,” she said.