Ensuring students grow is special job for Moffat educator
CRAIG — Elementary school children who need extra help receive care and kindness from Ridgeview Elementary School teacher Crystal Miller.
Miller teaches special education across all grades at Ridgeview.
The youngest of eight children, she grew up in a very small town in Montana.
Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a certified nurse’s aide and was caretaker for three family members during their final days battling cancer
Miller has been married for 17 years, has two children and enjoys being outdoors and hunting, fishing and camping with her family.
“My favorite place to vacation is Alaska,” she said.
The Craig Press recently caught up with Miller to learn about her work as a Moffat County educator, as well as some of her other favorite things.
Craig Press: Who most influenced you to become an educator and how?
Miller: I dreamed of becoming a teacher as a young girl. I remember my mother playing school with me for hours and pretending to be my student. As I got older, I worked hard to get good grades. My teachers took the time to help me understand what was being taught. They challenged me, and I developed self-confidence. I wanted to share the same experiences with others.
CP: Describe how/when you learned teaching is what you were meant to do?
Miller: During college, I worked as a habilitation aide for adults with Down Syndrome. I couldn’t wait to get out of class and go to work. Those very special people led me to special education, and I have been in this field for 18 years.
CP: What are five words that describe you?
Miller: Patient, hardworking, kind, outgoing and humorous.
CP: What is the most challenging part of your role as an educator, and how have you met your goals?
Miller: Part of the challenge of being a special education teacher is managing the wide variety of disabilities. Student growth is now a part of all teachers’ evaluation. For students with special needs, you learn to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. Growth is not always as fast as their peers, or as noticeable, but it’s progress. Helping students with disabilities reach their full potential and accomplish their goals makes my job worthwhile.
CP: What have you read recently that led you to change your approach to work?
Miller: “Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters,” by Deborah Hodge. Some children may not understand or realize they have a learning disability until they get older. This is a story I share with my students to educate them that everybody has strengths and weaknesses and difficulties in reading; it does not have to define who they are.
CP: How are you involved in the community outside school?
Miller: Coaching, attending my children’s sports functions and fundraisers.
CP: If a visitor came to your classroom and took a photo, what would they see in that photo?
Miller: Smiling, hard-working students, bright colors, family photos, a Broncos bulletin board and lots of motivational quotes.
CP: What is one fun fact about you?
Miller: I’m part owner in a business that is scientifically proven to slow the aging process and reduce oxidative stress.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Colorado Northwestern Community College will host a free presentation from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.