2 new Westside elementary school principals
Title 1 focus attracts Miller to Jackson
With Jackson Elementary slated to become a Title 1 school in 2011-12, District 11 has hired a principal with experience in working with students needing extra help.
Sara Miller was the assistant principal and “turnaround coach” at Monroe Elementary for the previous two years. She has been with D-11 for five years since moving here from California, where she taught in public schools for eight years, working chiefly in lower-income settings.
This will be her first time as a principal. She replaces Anne Dancy, who retired from Jackson after 21 years through 2010-11. “I know Anne, and I think we're very similar,” Miller said. “It's a school with a great tradition, culture and climate. The district hired me to carry that on and add a new piece to it.”
Jackson qualified to be a Title 1 school by exceeding the 75 percent mark in the past school year, based on the number of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches because of low family incomes. As part of that focus, the district has budgeted more money for Jackson, but with the direction that the school improve the performance of Title 1 students who are scoring low on reading and math.
Although this may seem like extra pressure for a new principal, Miller said she's just happy to have the chance. “I've always been interested in being a principal,” she said. As a teacher, she found that she was limited to helping the students in her own classroom, but as a principal “you can have a bigger impact,” she said. “You can work with kids in ways others can't.”
Her personal “soft spot,” Miller said, is when she works with students from tougher backgrounds - who typically, for different reasons, have low expectations of themselves - “grow and meet goals they never thought they could.”
To be successful overall, she recognizes that she needs the support of school staff and parents; already she's been energized by teachers who have dropped by to meet her. “This is an amazing staff, and they've been very welcoming,” Miller said.
Westside Pioneer article