For 36 years, Barbara Miller commuted from Portland to teach at Skamania School.
“It’s 35 miles, door to door,” she says. “Forty minutes.”
Certainly there were closer schools, but Skamania is special.
“I like the community, the small school, the feeling of family,” she says.
Miller began her teaching career with three years in White Salmon. When she got married and settled in Portland, she wanted something closer. That’s how she found Skamania.
Over the years she taught grades three through eight, most recently landing in the fifth and sixth grade classroom, where math has been her passion. She also served as the school’s technology coordinator.
Many Skamania School alumni have had the opportunity to learn from Miller—including current teacher Cherri Locke, who was a student in Miller’s fifth grade class her first year at Skamania.
“I learned a lot that year,” Locke says. “Times tables … the order of the planets—My Vest Eats Marshmallows Jumping Sandwiches Under New Potatoes!”
(Miller had encouraged the class to pick memorable words beginning with the first letter of each planet. It proved unforgettable.)
After working with Miller for more than 25 years, music teacher Jeannette Hodapp reflected on what Miller has brought to the school, which she says “feels like an extended family.”
“I’ve always looked up to her because of her professionalism,” Hodapp says. “She always had such a strong grasp of her material and marvelous classroom management.”
Asked what has given her the most pleasure in her teaching career, Miller talked about being able to work with students in small, two-grade classes.
She recalled one student in particular who had struggled, especially in writing.
The small class size enabled her to work with him one on one, and she noticed that as he began to understand writing better, “He perked up and had new confidence in himself.”
That’s the best, she says, “Seeing that light go on when they persisted.”
What’s next for Miller? She plans to focus on grandkids, gardening, reading books, and traveling with her husband and friends.
“Barbara Miller has given 36 years of dedicated, outstanding service to the Skamania School community,” says Superintendent Ralph Pruitt. “We will miss her!”