Centennial’s new Teacher of the Year brakes for garage sales, according to
Jeanne Scarr, Centennial Education Association (CEA) President.
At the garage sales, special education teacher Colleen Miller picks up
books to add to the collection she has amassed for Golden Lake students.
“She saw a need and had a solution,” Scarr notes, “and she donates her own
time and money to fill the gap.”
Colleen has been with the district for 17 years, and has been teaching for
25. “I love kids,” she says, “and special education was my calling. I had a
severely handicapped brother and was involved with his care starting when
I was four. I became involved with other kids with special needs throughout
my childhood by helping care for my brother.”
Colleen believes in making learning fun for both the students and the
teacher. “I love to see that look of discovery on their faces when they get
something for the first time,” she said, “or the excitement when they make a
personal connection with the concepts we are working on.”
Her classroom is a place where special education students, grades K–2, can
feel successful. “I love to watch them grow with their skills and knowledge,
especially when they have worked so hard and finally got it,” said Colleen.
She works in small groups or individually with children and enjoys making
accommodations for each student’s specific ability and learning style. “I
make use of visual supports, movement, rhythm patterns, songs and chants
to help them,” she says. “I also work closely with the regular classroom
teachers to meet the needs of the special education students both in and out
of the classroom.”
Being clear with her own behavior and expectations is one strategy that
helps Colleen maintain a positive learning environment. She also says she
“praises students in a big way and redirects them discretely.”
In addition to the students at Golden Lake, Colleen shares the books she
collects with children living in Centennial Square and Paul Revere Cooperative.
That’s where she serves as a reading volunteer in the Summer Fun
Program. She also helps coordinate a math program and Homework Help
Program at YouthWay Center.
Colleen has a bachelor’s degree in K–12 special education and is most
proud of earning a master’s of education from Hamline University.
As the CEA’s pick for Centennial Teacher of the Year, Colleen will be a
candidate for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Community members are
invited to help with the application by providing letters of support, which
can be mailed to Colleen at 4707 North Road, Circle Pines, MN 55014.
Other teachers nominated for the Centennial honor were Holly Augustin,
Kary Burggraff, Megan Fritz, Linda Martin, David Mundale, Jeanne Randall
and Greg Schnagl.
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