School of Education News

UW-Madison’s Miller writes at Medium.com about experience in education system

October 10, 2019

UW-Madison’s Keith Miller Jr. recently published an article at Medium.com headlined “Confessions of an ‘At-Risk’ Black Boy Turned Educator.”

Miller explains that it’s “a nine-minute read/journey to the center of my own trauma and experience as a Black body in the education system and the journey to leading the work in my community at the Deep Center, and the transformative process it sparked.”

Keith MillerMiller is in the midst of completing his coursework with the master of science for professional educators (MSPE) program from the School of Education. The MSPE program is a fully online education program offended through the Department of Educational Psychology that also integrates courses from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis – leading to a Master of Science in Educational Psychology degree.

He details his personal experience in the education system, talking about his struggles with learning. Miller remembers that his teachers discussed putting him in special education classes, but his mother resisted. “Whether she knew it or not, my low grades and test scores weren’t proof of a learning disability,” he says. “They were evidence of something else: the trauma of a young boy buckling under the weight of poverty and a crippling fear of failure.” He describes how every lesson, with a few exceptions, felt like another opportunity to fall short of the bar placed before him.  

Miller continues, recalling that he didn’t understand the point behind learning, because only playing could relieve the pain of the constant feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that invaded all aspects of his youth. While the symptoms of complex trauma were persistent, he notes that no educator or counselor seemed to pick up on it. 

Eventually, Miller writes, through the patience and tireless dedication of his mother and future stepfather, he discovered he was enough and his voice was too. He began to see learning, reading, and writing as tools to help him find his power and reimagine the world around him, rather than shackles that held him down.

According to Miller, being an educator was never a part of his plan. After attending college 1,000 miles away from his hometown, he moved to live and work in New York City. Miller worked training adult mentors at a youth mentoring organization, as an administrator at a major university, and as a storyteller and creative for an education reform organization.  

However, after relocating to his hometown, Miller stumbled across a job at a small literacy nonprofit. Though he was hesitant, he came to realize that everything that he had gone through equipped him to be the true definition of an educator, “a master weaver who can take the painful webs of rejection, trauma, shame, and then use it to heal ourselves and others.” 

Read Miller’s complete story via this Medium.com web page


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