OLD MILL HIGH SCHOOL
Music is a language all of its own, and our Educator of the Month speaks it fluently and precisely as he it shares it with his students each day with enthusiasm and dedication. Old Mill High School’s fabulous steel drum band was the brainchild of Mike Miller, Music Department Chair over 15 years ago. His development of the band started out very humbly in 1997 while on paternity leave when he committed himself to learning how to build and play steel drums. He then made a decision that would change the lives of hundreds of students and launch a program that began with six students to more than 100 students a semester.
He pitched the idea of starting a steel drum ensemble to then principal Arlen Liverman. Mr. Miller’s objective was to provide a music program that would attract a diverse group of students and motivate them to appreciate the value of music through learning how to play and perform with steel drums. That’s when the program took off! Steel drum band music is upbeat and inspiring and so is Mike’s teaching style. It’s one that reflects positive energy, supportive relationships with students and a commitment to musical excellence. Every student – regardless of ability or previous musical experience – is invited to participate in steel drum classes at Old Mill. The positive atmosphere in his classroom engages students and encourages them to work hard in school.
Mr. Miller has spent countless hours preparing for his students by building drums and stands, and his efforts have paid off. The Old Mill Steel Drum Band performs over 25 events a year, covering the Maryland and D. C. area; and under Mike’s leadership the students are given performance opportunities and the chance to spread the musical joy and excitement for the participants and the audiences. Another extremely enriching experience that he provides is bringing world renowned players and composers to work with his students. It’s truly magical what occurs. Mike even travelled to Trinidad to experience a huge steel drum event, broadening his expertise to bring back to his students.
Mr. Miller has been referred to by a colleague as a “gentle giant,” because one would never know how much he gives of himself. He is humble about the undertakings he has accomplished; he is grounded; he is a confident professional. Mike is gifted in music making, teaching students life lessons and being a true leader at Old Mill. He is a true visionary.
Michael Miller: Through your dedication, nurturing and inclusive teaching methods and love for the steel drum, you have grown a unique program that supports student involvement, fosters community outreach and offers students a vehicle to learn leadership skills though collaboration. The Board of Education is honored to have you part of the AACPS family and we congratulate you on being selected Educator of the Month for May 2013!