Milbert Miller - blazing a trail of succes
Creating a First World education system has been a priority area on the agenda for many developing countries as this is a key determinant in achieving high levels of sustained economic growth and development.
High premium is placed on establishing a clear vision and crafting broad aspirations that promote access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency for all students that are engaged by the education system.
To support this thrust, education systems worldwide are tasked with recruiting and retaining educators who are visionaries, committed, and transformational in their leadership approaches as they play a pivotal role in the transformation of every nation at the local level.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, through the National College for Educational Leadership, is pleased with the gains made by outstanding educator Milbert Miller in fulfilling the mandate of the ministry.
Miller began his career in education at the Maggotty High School in 1997, where he taught electronic technology and information technology at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) level. As an effective classroom teacher, he was successful in attaining a 100 per cent pass rate in CSEC Information Technology for many years. Armed with the passion and tenacity to lead effective organisational change, he transitioned into a new position and embraced the challenge of being the principal of the Aberdeen Primary & Junior High school, now Aberdeen High, in May 2012.
As a transformational leader, Miller became excited about the prospect of being enrolled in the National College for Educational Leadership's (NCEL) programme, which would enhance his leadership capabilities. In 2014, the Aberdeen Primary & Junior High School began its transition to Aberdeen High School. This shift towards full high school status, led by the principal and his team, was but a natural outcome of diligence and hard work.
This educator was among the second cohort of principals who accessed the college's Effective Principals' Training Programme (EPTP) in March 2015 and exceeded expectations in Round One of the training.
Subsequent to the training, Miller was engaged in a rigorous three-month field experience at the institution, where he applied the leadership lessons and principles learnt to improve areas at the then Aberdeen Primary and Junior High School, which contributed to greater levels of accountability, transparency, and improved student outcomes.
With transformational skills now enriched and fortified through the EPTP, Miller was eager to utilise his financial management skills, which served as a spring board to his success at Aberdeen High.
Building a network and forging partnerships with several key stakeholders are integral steps to the success of a school, and it is with this in mind that Miller's leadership was not only limited to the internal stakeholders but extended to the Aberdeen community and its environs.
In an effort to build capacity within the community of Aberdeen, the school facilitated CSEC evening classes for community members.
To achieve this, the institution partnered with the Jamaican Foundation for Life Long Learning and over 20 persons were enrolled in literacy programmes.
Other initiatives included the launch of a Christmas treat for all the elderly and senior citizens in the community. Miller worked assiduously, along with his team, in ensuring that students were included in this initiative as part of his efforts to develop strong philanthropic awareness in students.
Research continues to show that boys do learn differently from girls. To underscore this, Miller was able to implement effective strategies geared at improving boys' education at the institution. The realisation that there is a gender difference for instructing students led to sensitisation meetings and training for teachers and parents. Strategies such as the reorganisation of classes, changes in communication techniques, and the incorporation of more resources in the teaching and learning processes resulted in higher academic performance of boys at the grades 4, 6, and 9 levels.
In order for students to perform at their optimal, Miller introduced a breakfast programme, which was aimed at improving attendance. All students were given a free breakfast provided that they arrived early for school. This initiative improved punctuality and increased attendance and performance.
School of choice
Through his transformational approach Miller was able to effect significant changes throughout the school which facilitated the repositioning of Aberdeen Primary and Junior High as a school of choice as most children within the community previously overlooked the school because of sanitation challenges and less than desirable performance at Grades 4, 6, and 9.
Various intervention programmes to build literacy and numeracy were employed, and the school realised improved passes in all areas. Students began to obtain passes of 100 per cent in mathematics and an overall average of more than 90 per cent in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). This was stunning for the community, and parents began to enrol their children in the school.
Impact of Training
Miller remained committed to seizing capacity-building opportunities and later enrolled in the college's System and School Leadership Training Programme. Miller credits the NCEL programmes for the impact it has had on his leadership.
He believes that the programmes have served as a major platform on which the successful implementation of programmes within the schools he served as principal was hinged. The enrolment in the college's coaching programme has been impactful. Building mentorship programmes and guiding middle managers to effectively monitor new staff members was as a result of the skills Miller acquired in the programme.
"Through exposure to the programme, I was able to use my knowledge, skills, and competencies to assist colleague principals in developing stronger programmes within their schools. The NCEL's training programmes are contextual and relevant and have helped in sharpening my supervision, mentoring and coaching skills. I have developed strategies for greater accountability and a shared vision for all stakeholders," he says.
Miller is currently serving at Sydney Pagon STEM Academy as principal as of January 2016. He believes that students must be given every opportunity to maximise their learning. This is evident in his efforts to expose students at grade 9 to CSEC Information Technology.
The STEM focused institution is deliberate in the preparation, training and certification of students who are market ready, critical thinkers, innovative, well-rounded and are able to compete in the global community. Having laid a firm foundation with the guidance and direction of the NCEL, Miller has blazed a strong trail of success and will continue to raise the level of student performance at the institution while maintaining good relations with the community.
- Article courtesy Ministry of Education, Youth and Information