Celebrating National Principals Month: Deberah Miller, Pelham City Schools

Deberah Miller
Pelham Oaks Elementary
Pelham City Schools

How long have you been a principal?

I have seven years’ experience as a principal – five in Pelham City.

Briefly describe your education journey.

My educational journey began at Shelton State Community College when our youngest son started kindergarten. After completing my basic courses I transfereed to the University of Montevallo and completed my Early Childhood and Elementary BS Degree. I focused on being a wife, mother and teacher until our children were grown and I was able to complete my master’s in Educational Leadership.

I was fortunate to acquire a Reading Coach position with the Tuscaloosa County School System and after three years in my coaching role, I secured an assistant principal position. I served as an AP for 8 months and was then hired as a principal with Tuscaloosa City Schools. Although I was very happy in Tuscaloosa the desire to help start a new school system led me to apply for a principal position with the Pelham City Schools. I was hired in Pelham and am in my fifth year as principal with the system. I have a total of 8 years administrative experience.

What keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Reflecting on the day keeps me up at night: what we could continue to improve upon to ensure our students and our staff continue to grow to their greatest potential? I am also consistently reflecting on how we can keep our staff motivated when there are difficult days.

Thinking of our students and staff is also what gets me up each morning. Looking forward to seeing the “bright eyes” and smiles of our students and watching our staff strive daily to ensure these children grow to their fullest potential are what continues to drive me each day.

What are 2-3 essential skills that all leaders should possess?

It is my experience and belief that leaders need to possess good listening skills. They work with teachers, students, parents, and community members on a daily basis. Through listening and supporting these various stakeholders, school leaders are able to build relationships which are critical to the success of the school and most importantly student growth.

Another essential skill that leaders should possess is the desire for continuous learning. Leaders should lead by example; which includes modeling the importance of being a continuous learner. Through possession of both of these skills leaders are able to provide a good learning environment for students, employees, and families.

In what ways do you network with other educators outside your school? How do you create opportunities for your own professional learning?

I have been associated with the Alabama Best Practices Center for at least 6 years. During this time I have been involved with IPN (Instructional Partners Network), KLN (Key Leaders Network) and PCN (Powerful Conversations Network). Through these professional interactions and learning experiences I have continuously enhanced my knowledge of current research-based practices and implemented them in the schools I’ve been associated with.

I continue to include our lead teachers in many of these same professional opportunities to enhance their knowledge of best practices and expand their skill sets. The lead teachers bring their learning back to our school and help spread it in ways that impact everyone’s instructional practices.