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Meet Our Specialist of the Year - Carolyn Miller

Each year, JAG National invites state affiliates to nominate up to three Outstanding Specialist award winners. These award winners are all-around outstanding, consistently delivering on the mission and offering best-in-class programs. Each year, specialists from across the state are nominated by their managers and peers, and three awardees are selected. We are excited to give you the opportunity to learn more about one of our three winners, Carolyn Miller.

Carolyn Miller - JMG Specialist for 6 years with Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation at Pershing High School

Why did you become a JMG Specialist? I saw the job description and felt that it was the right fit for what I wanted to do with my career. A compilation of everything I loved to do.

What inspires you about your job? So many things. I am all about relationships and I am able to form deep attachments with my students. Seeing students succeed despite their own self doubt, seeing students shine years after graduation, watching the light in students' eyes come on when they recognize that they can accomplish their goals, and so on! Knowing that I had a hand in helping someone overcome their obstacles keeps me fueled and eager.

Recall a favorite memory about being a specialist. There are so many! Recently, a student who graduated in 2019 got the perfect job for him. I sent him the job lead thinking this would be great. Before that, we had a long talk about changes he needed to make in his life to find success. He had lost his father right after graduation, his mother was not dependable for a variety of reasons, and he had to care for his sister. He fell apart for a while but I never walked away from him. His success was delayed but he persevered and overcame it. I use this as a touchstone to remember to never give up on a student.

What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job? TIME! There is so much to do all the time. Database, lesson plans, maintaining contact, etc. I try to manage my time well but there is always something unexpected. I should probably set more boundaries with my students as they call me all the time at any time but I want to be available when they need me.

What is one of the greatest highlights/joys of your job? Again, seeing students use what they learned in JMG to succeed. I love it when students give me a shoutout on Facebook about something they achieved after learning about it through JMG. I LOVE the relationships that we form that are there years later. I am blessed to have so many people to love. Additionally, the friendships I have formed with JMG colleagues are very affirming and joyful.

Why do you think JMG is so important for youth? We are there for them in a way other teachers cannot be. Knowing that they can call me long after they graduate is very comforting for students. JMG is a conduit to jobs and opportunities that can't be provided in a traditional classroom. JMG is Adulting 101 - students learn how to survive in the real world that isn't driven by A's and B's. I KNOW that there are students out there who are very successful who would not have done much without growing and going through JMG. We are here for the quiet kids as much as for the squeaky wheels.

Share your hobbies, do you have any pets, what do you like to do in your spare time? I am an avid reader and a complete nerd. Marvel movies, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter are a big part of my life. I love flowers and my flower garden is awesome. I have two pets, Oliver and Mollie. I am married with two kids and a niece who is like a daughter - I have four grandchildren (so young, I know!) from my son and my daughter is expecting her first. I am actively involved in my church and am a Stephen Minister (check into it - it is worldwide). JMG is a big part of my life and informs a lot of what I do. Everyone in my life is aware that I may stop what I am doing to answer a student's call and that is okay with them!


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