Grew up in New Haven, Teaching in New Haven
Two of the three teachers interviewed found themselves in other cities before they returned home.
Miller headed to the millennial mecca of Brooklyn. She threw herself into teaching social studies at Park Slope Collegiate high school. She had a strong female principal who inspired her, she said. She also saw the school wrestle with convincing middle-class Brooklyn families to send their kids to school along with the lower-income, mostly black and Latino students coming there from other neighborhoods.
With a young child, she and her husband decided it’d be easier to live in a smaller city. New Haven called Miller home. She landed at Metropolitan, where another “incredibly strong, tough” woman with her “heart in the right place,” Judy Puglisi, is her principal, who inspires her, she said. “I want to be in a school I believe in. I feel I have that now,” Miller said.
Sometimes in “spite” of negative trends in American education, like “privatization,” some “amazing work is going on at the ground level,” Miller said.
At Metro, Miller’s classes include constitutional law, where this week her students — like Palmieri’s at Hillhouse — debated the death penalty. Miller has also recently had her students study the 1963 Supreme Court Gideon v. Wainwright case, which established indigent defendants’ right to a public defender. She brought in a March 19 New York Times story about the virtual disappearance of that right in New Orleans. Like Palmieri’s students, Miller’s are interested in social justice movements taking place today in the U.S.; their teachers are helping them connect those movements to debates from earlier generations.
Last Friday Millere found herself chaperoning students to an LGBT “True Colors” conference. It felt like the continuation of a commitment she had as a Cross student, when she attended a similar conference (then called “Children of the Shadows”) as an active member of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance back in the days before legal gay marriage when LGBT activism had far less public support; during Miller’s student days at Cross local ministers protested the school’s allowing LGBT students’ stories to appear in the school newspaper.
“That was one of those cool full-circle moments,” she said of the chaperoning.