Reba S. Miller, Point Road School

Apr 5, 2024, 11:04 AM | Updated: May 9, 2024, 9:45 pm

“This does not fit the criteria, but for years I have wanted to do this.

First of all, this teacher died in 2011 at the age of 101. She was my fourth grade teacher in 1965-66 school year. She changed my life. After all, I am 67 and I am still thinking about her and what she taught me about life.

First of all, she made learning fun. Everything had a game to it. Whenever I spell Mississippi, I still see her doing her “M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-Crooked Letter-Crooked letter-I-Hunch Back-Hunch Back-I” dance in the front of the room (at 55 years old). Every game had a score, and every score was about improvement, not the ultimate score, so everyone was always competitive if they tried. Spelling, math, reading, writing, and more all had a fun twist to it. Second, she loved us all and we knew it. One time, there was a very quiet girl in our class who showed up with bruises on her face regularly. One day, Mrs Miller stood behind her and stroked her hair and said to the class “Class, don’t you think *name’s* hair looks like woven gold?” The girl started to cry. I did not understand why at the time, but in looking back as an adult, I can see she was caring for someone who needed it. Finally, during the year, a black family was moving to our town and would be one of the only black families in Little Silver, and the only back students in our elementary school. Mrs. Miller, in defiance of direction given her (as I later found out), and knowing many of the kid’s parents were bigoted (not mine thankfully), gently told us of her experience as a teacher in the deep south when she was starting in the 1930s and what it was like teaching in a ‘black school.’ She never gave us a value judgment but told us factual stories that horrified us back then. By the time this family moved in and their children came to our class, we were all very aware of how hard it was going to be to be the only blacks in an all-white school, and almost everyone reached out to welcome them. To this day, my feelings about race began with her careful teaching. She did indeed change my life. I know she is not a Utah teacher, but she was such a difference-maker, I wanted to at least go on record nominating her.”

-Bill Bennett

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Reba S. Miller, Point Road School