Meet The Person:
Mr. Robert Miller - Teacher. Mr. Miller is a Technology Education Teacher at Pennridge High School. He has been teaching for 26 years and, as he puts it, "enjoying the ride for 48!" He specifically teaches Architecture, drafting and AutoCad.
Mr. Miller is a father of two sons, Bobby and Danny. His sons are very involved in sports, especially ice hockey. He and his wife have enjoyed the opportunity to share in their experiences, with a lot of highs (a district championship for both of them) and a few lows (with a serious injury.) Mr. Miller has been to over 800 ice hockey games but he is not the biggest ice hockey fan. He says once the boys are done playing he may never go see a game again. But has enjoyed every second of watching them play. It's an opportunity many parents never get to have.
He has been fortunate enough to work with many great kids over the last 20+ years. The rewarding part of teaching is when his students learn and grow. He enjoys students walking into his room with no experience working in CAD but walking out of his classroom at the end of the year with a professional portfolio and a sense of accomplishment. Every year his students amaze him and themselves in what they can accomplish.
His career accolades come from the "Thank You's" from many students and parents past and present. Many of his students have gone on to become successful and he is happy to be a part of that success story. If you cannot tell, Mr. Miller is a modest man.
Influence 4/52Mr. Robert Miller Mr. Miller at one of his drafting tables in his classroom
Where to start with Mr. Miller. Let's start with this: GOOD GUY!
Mr. Miller was my Drafting/Architecture teacher in high school. He somehow put up with me and my antics in his class. And boy am I glad he did because he changed my life. While that sounds dramatic, it's the truth. See I had no vision or direction my freshman and sophomore years at school. I screwed around in class and didn't care. His classes were one of five that I cared about my entire four years at Pennridge (Lunch, Gym, Home Ec.[foods] & Wood shop.) Now while that may be true for some people out there, it didn't help that I tried to be a class clown many of the times as well. I could tell you many, many stories about how I was a real ass in his classroom. I honestly feel bad how I acted in his class, how I didn't seem to care. But I knew deep down he cared about me and could tell I wasn't a bad kid. But I kept pushing and I know I let him down sometimes. I think about that often and it's a shame I didn't realize what I had in front of me at that time. I mean, I loved his classes and him. It was one of the reasons I wanted to go to school.
I met a lot of great friends there, learned things I still use today. But something was missing. I was crying out for something. But when you are 16 or so, you don't care about many things. I cared about my car, my girlfriend, where I was hopefully partying the following weekend, etc. So you can kind of see where I was heading.
It was October or November of my Junior year, taking his Architecture I or II class when the life altering event happened. I went to the college fair at school and was thinking of being a big wig business man in NYC or something. Because, as a kid, who didn't want to study business, make six figures and live in NYC? It was the easy way out. I really had no idea. I came back to class with a bunch of college pamphlets and brochures and sat down. He came over as I started to get my floor plans laid out on my desk.
Mr. Miller: "So, what you find out?"
Me: "Oh, I have no idea. Some school stuff. I really have no clue what I want to do. Maybe business or something."
Mr. Miller (signalling with his hand): "Come over here, I want to show you something."
He walked me over to the wall above the hand washing station and showed me a gold/yellow flyer hanging up.
Mr. Miller: "See this. This is a flyer from Millersville University. Read that."
The flyer read: Critical Shortage of Technology Education Teachers in the state of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Miller: "Millersville is a college in Lancaster, PA where I went to school and so did Mr. Androkites (you will see him soon!) You seem to really enjoy yourself down here taking our classes. Why don't you look into this. You could teach classes just like I do. It's a lot of fun and Millersville has one of the only two programs in the state. And in my opinion, it's the best."
Me: "Wait. I can go to school to do what you and Mr. A do?!" And get paid for it?!"
And the rest, as they say, is history. Bucks County Community College for two years (Deans & Presidents lists [3.8 gpa]) then to Millersville (Cum Laude [3.64gpa] graduating with honors and an Athletic Coaching minor Faculty award.) I will never forget that day and still tell that story every 6 months or so to my students.
You see, I teach many Nick Pompei's. Kids who maybe don't exactly know what they want to do. They don't have the vision yet, the drive. Most of them have no idea of what Technology Education is and what they can do with it. They might not be good test takers, can goof around a little too much, etc. So I share this story with my kids to let them know that there is something out there for them. I am proof of that. They need to button down, work hard and realize that when an amazing opportunity falls in their lap they need to seize the moment. Work hard, put your nose to the grindstone as they say and go get it. That's why I am where I am today.
Sometimes life can change on a dime and present you with a fork in the road. And having a guy like Mr. Miller standing at said fork with a giant sign that says "Yo Nick, this way dude!" is that opportunity. That's why Mr. Miller changed my life. Everything I have now may not have been without him. Wife, son, career, house, etc. It's a butterfly effect and philosophical to think about really. Kind of trips you out!
So taking all of his architecture classes taught me many life skills. But it gave my life a new outlook. And I try to pay that forward as best I can. That's what good teachers do and better yet, that's what good people do. Mr. Miller, thank you sir. Job well done.