I AM THE AEA Echo Miller serves her community by keeping students engaged.
cho Miller is what keeps all the moving parts of a school day on track. The in-school suspension teacher for the Ouachita River School District’s Acorn campus, Miller also is the study hall teacher, serves lunch duty for both the middle and high schools, and is the afternoon library aide. It is never a dull moment for Miller, and she likes it that way. “I love the kids I get to work with,” she said. “I like talking to them and finding out about all the different lives they have.” As an in-school suspension (ISS) teacher, Miller helps to keep more kids in school where they can be engaged rather than at home or in the community unsupervised. In-school suspension serves to be an effective learning tool, one that is part of the district’s strategy for creating and maintaining a positive, respectful and disciplined environment. When executed effectively, ISS helps students, teachers, faculty and parents realize that conflicts of all kinds will occur at school, and there are strategies in place to resolve those conflicts and address problems so students can continue to learn. In addition to her many duties at the Ouachita River School District in Mena, Miller also serves as the local president of the Arkansas Education Association and is the National Education Association delegate for Region 6 in Arkansas. Miller says her participation in the AEA grew from membership to holding an office is because of what the organization provides. “I started out joining the AEA for the insurance,” she said. “I also joined because I knew that if I need help with anything at my job, they would do whatever they could do. I then started attending the workshops they provide, and over the years, I have really enjoyed meeting other members. In fact, I just have fun whenever I am involved with AEA.” In particular, Miller appreciates that the AEA is open to everyone who works in education, not just teachers and faculty. According to the National Education Association, education support professionals (ESP) like Miller are the first and last school employees to see students in the school community. Through their various careers they touch the lives of students and ensure student success. The benefits of joining the AEA for education support professionals include the respect that comes with the support and backing
of the largest, most effective employee organization in the country—NEA and its affiliates; strong, effective representation if employment problems arise; leadership training for members and their local association; and professional development training on issues that affect ESP members, among others. “AEA is a big family that looks out for you and teaches you along the way,” she said. “I think the AEA is a great organization because it doesn’t just help teachers but also aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, custodians, school nurses and anyone else connected with education. I have learned so much, such as classroom management and how to communicate with the students, and as a member, you get to go to a lot of fun places and take part in a lot of helpful workshops. I got to go to a convention in Denver, Colorado, for a week, and it was a blast. I learned a lot about voting on amendments and laws, and everyone you meet is glad to have you as a part of the association.”
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