Having taught for 45 years, LaRue Miller has learned not to let things surprise her.
But when Midlothian Independent School District Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy called last week to tell her the district’s six elementary school would bear Miller’s name, she had to sit down.”
“Never in all my dreams did I expect this to happen to me,” said Miller. “I am so honored, so proud and so humbled. This is the dream of every teacher - to have a school named after you - and it has happened to me.”
MISD Trustees voted last week to name the district’s six elementary school LaRue Miller Elementary School. The school is currently under construction on Sudith Lane and it is expected to open in the fall of 2008.
The honor did not come as that big a surprise to many in Midlothian.
Miller began teaching in Midlothian in 1949. She was one of two teachers who transferred to integrated schools in 1966. She continued with the district until her retirement in 1994.
Miller continues her calling as an educator and serves as a substitute with MISD on a regular basis.
Miller was born and raised in Midlothian. Her father, Barry Kilgore was one of two Black men who moved to Midlothian to work in the cotton oil mill in 1906.
“They were pioneers and both he and my mother worked hard and pushed us to get our education,” Miller said. “Back in those days Blacks couldn’t graduate from high school in Midlothian and I had to go to Waxahachie to get my diploma.”
Miller would continue her education at Paul Quinn College near Waco. She would major in English and earn her degree and teaching certificate in 1949.
“I came back home and would see Mr. (L.A.) Mills, who was the superintendent at the time, and he would always tell me I had a job as soon as I finished college,” said Miller. “Girls in my day grew up to be teachers, nurses or domestics. My father pointed out that the cotton would play out one day and Mr. Mills always said there would always be jobs for good teachers.”
Miller returned to Midlothian to teach remedial reading to 5th and 6th graders in segregated schools.
“I always felt that if they didn’t master reading by that age they would have problems reading for the rest of their life,” said Miller. “I also had my certification in special education and I also taught there.”
She would start teaching a fourth grade class in 1971.
With an average of 20 children in a class, she reached more than 900 students in her 45 years of teaching.
“I still have people come up to me and thank me for being their teacher,” said Miller. “I want to assure you it is an honor to have a building named after you, but the real joy of teaching is to have a student say you made a difference in their life and you helped them get an education.”
Miller said she feels teaching is a calling and if it isn’t in your heart you can only do it so long.
“Teaching isn’t easy and there are disappointments,” said Miller. “I always claimed the verse in Philippians that says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”
Miller said she has been blessed to be a teacher in Midlothian.
“You have to love your job and you have to love children to teach,” said Miller. “Watching their eyes and faces light up - that’s the joy of teaching.”
Miller was married to the late Arthur Miller, who was a teacher in Midlothian ISD. Their daughter Sherri currently lives in Abilene, and their grandson Cordale is attending the University of North Texas.
MISD touted Miller’s legacy and desire to help younger teachers as one of the reasons to name the Sudith Lane school in her honor.
“Having an elementary school named after an individual who is still active within the district and community will allow students the opportunity to see Mrs. Millerâ her love and dedication at work, and utilize that example as a continued means of motivation to succeed,” said a statement on MISD’s website. “LaRue Miller is a very humble individual who has education, the well-being of students, and a love for the community at the heart of all that she does. Naming a school after Mrs. Miller is a tremendous testimony to her years of dedication and service.”
Miller was chosen by a special School Naming Committee formed earlier this year to generate a list of names for the new school.
The 95,972-square-foot, two-story, elementary school will house grades K-5th and draw from south-central Midlothian. The building will face Sudith Lane and use approximately 12 acres of the 91-acre site.
The property was bought in November 2000 for $732,320. LaRue Miller Elementary School has a projected cost, including off-site construction, of $17,157,215.
The new footprint will have the building broken up into six sections that can accommodate 750 students. The building will sport modern security measures, covered drop-off areas and separation of noisy cafeteria and gym from academic areas. The site will also be landscaped.
The new elementary school site has prompted the widening of Sudith Lane and the construction of a two-lane, heavy-duty bridge on Mt. Zion Road.
The funding for MISD’s sixth elementary school was approved in the May 2006 bond issue.