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Local high school administrator named Idaho’s assistant principal of the year

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Craig Miller | Courtesy Thunder Ridge High School

IDAHO FALLS — Craig Miller, an administrator at Thunder Ridge High School, has been named Idaho’s assistant principal of the year.

The Idaho Association of School Administrators, along with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, sponsor the award. Miller was chosen out of three finalists. The acknowledgment is given to an Idaho middle school or high school assistant principal who thrives in collaborative leadership, curriculum, personalization, instruction and assessment.

“It has been a great honor,” Miller said.

Miller was nominated by two other Thunder Ridge Assistant Principals – Trent Dabell and Zack Lords. He said because they were nice enough to nominate him, he decided he would finish the application papers. With 21 years of working in education under his belt, the application process gave him time to reflect on how he got to where he is today.

Originally, he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, but that idea evaporated when he realized how much schooling he would need to complete. During his time at Idaho State University, he had the opportunity to coach kids baseball as a summer job.

“I just found a love working with kids and seeing them grow and progress,” Miller said. “It made me start thinking that maybe I want to work with kids.”

He decided to become a business teacher while continuing to coach.

“I have not regretted it,” Miller said. “I love being in education.”

Miller’s resume includes time spent at Aberdeen Middle School and a Meridian charter school as a principal. A few years later, he returned back home to work for Idaho Falls School District 91 in the district office as a Regional Technical Education Coordinator. But he missed working with students and left the district office for a position at Bonneville High School as the assistant principal.

With his technical education background, he was asked to start the Bonneville Technical Careers High School- something he considers his “baby” and a highlight of his career.

Both him and his wife, Michelle, are educators. With two kids, the couple knew if Miller ever had the chance to be at the same high school as their children, he would do it in a heartbeat.

“My daughter was getting ready to go to Hillcrest so I then transferred over there as assistant principal,” Miller said. “She’s at Thunder now and my son will be there next year.”

Craig and Michelle Miller. | Courtesy Craig Miller.

All of his work experience helped him realize that not all students understand their actions have reactions. He’s learned to be more patient and understanding in order to help students be successful. That’s something that even his co-worker and Thunder Ridge Principal Douglas McLaren admires about him.

“The best thing about Mr. Miller is that he always puts students first. He constantly looks for compromise in difficult situations, but the compromise needs to be what is best for the students,” McLaren said. “He has a way of helping students understand why decisions are being made even if it is something the student did not initially have in mind.”

Along with his assistant principal duties, Miller runs a monthly meeting where he works with others in the district. This is a time where topics such as school policies and discipline are brought up.

“Craig is great working with teachers and giving them instructional ideas about how to best work with students,” McLaren said. “He understands how students learn and can suggest strategies to teachers who are looking for ideas.”

Miller has a way of helping shape not just teachers, but students. But he insists he isn’t the only one. He said it takes a community, teachers, parents and administrators working together to help students achieve goals.

“I look at schools as we’re not just a school, we’re an economic development resource. If we don’t help them (the students) become successful or have the skills to be successful, then we can’t break cycles of poverty, we can’t help them get into college and we can’t help them reach the goals they want to,” Miller said. “We’re not just about math, science and English. We’re about helping these kids feel like they can do it so they can be successful, have a supportive family and do all those things to be part of the community.”

Three finalists from the state winners will be contenders for the National Assistant Principal of the Year award.

Craig will be recognized at the Idaho Association of School Administrators’ summer leadership conference Aug. 5-7, 2020 in Boise.

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