Director of education Miller would like to see more in the way of public input on critical education issues.

News 100 blueBy Walter Byj

February 3rd, 2016


“Most of the information they need is in the palm of their hand” said Director of Education Stuart Miller “as he held up his blackberry. This was the beginning of his respon as we when asked for a bird’s eye view of the evolution of education.

The teacher is no longer the holder of knowledge he said as the technology explosion has provided information just a few finger inputs away. The teachers role is changing as they transition from imparting information to becoming coaches helping students be critical thinkers of information that is available 24/7.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller chats with Dave Hammel at the Fist Robotics conference recently.

He said the nature of the workplace is changing daily with many of the current jobs not existing three years ago. Teachers have to teach today’s students to think through the information they are presented.

Where education was once insular, it is very much in the public domain he said. All facets of society from business, politicians and families need to pool and be involved in educating our kids. Referencing his past as a science teacher, he said biodiversity is key as we approach education.

So how will Director Miller lead the Halton District School Board?

He views the Halton board as a leader of education in Ontario. Although a resident of Toronto, Miller has strong roots in Halton; he has spent the majority of his career in Halton starting as a teacher in 1984 and climbing the ladder through a number of promotions to this current position. This is home away from home.

Joey Edwardh + Stuart Miller

Joey Edwardh, executive director of Community development Halton networks with Miller outside city hall.

He feels that we have great teachers in Halton and his role is to encourage and stay out of their way. He is not a micro manager.

As a strong communicator, Miller is not only in giving out information, but getting input from the public. He understands that people have busy lives and only when things go negative does the public get involved. That is not good enough he said.

The public needs to know more and be able to easily access what is happening in Halton. We need to reach out not only to parents, but those citizens that no longer have children in the school system. They too have a lot to offer in the educational process. And don’t forget the kids he said, they too can have valuable input.

Though initiated by his predecessor, work continues on the board’s website. He said the site needs to flow more easily so that anyone can easily reference information.
Though not having taught for a number of years, visiting all schools within Halton is an ongoing goal to keep in touch with the classroom. Miller remembers many of his students on a first name basis – those the Gazette talked with love the man.

Many students remember him, a sign of a good teacher.

When asked how much he should keep in touch with the municipalities within Halton, he was a bit cautious as councils tend to be somewhat politicized and that is not his role. However, municipalities and the board should be in close communication on a number of matters and at this time that is missing.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller makes a point at getting out to the schools as often as he can – he frequently lunches at Robert Bateman.

A strong advocate of students speaking more than one language, he reflects fondly on the European model where students speak two to three languages.

And language is one issue on which he and the board will be spending much time.

The French Immersion program within Halton is experiencing extreme growing pains. The large uptake in French Immersion is resulting in small classroom sizes in the English program. In addition, French language teachers are hard to find. This will be the first major test of the director and the board seeking public input into solving this dilemma.

The public hasn’t been nearly as forthcoming as he had hoped. “We need to hear what they think before we make major decisions. Miller wants a community where parents, the commercial community and the students to share insights and the ideas that will keep the Halton board in the number one position he thinks it holds.

They will continue to reach out to the public for their input as they seek an equitable solution. As Miller stated, the solution will require input of all stakeholders, not just the board.

Having a more robust “active transportation “is also key to having a well rounded student he said. We want students to be safe when going to and from school, but studies have shown that some sort of physical activity in the morning leads to a better rounded student.

When asked why the board chose him over other candidates, he replied: “I told them who he was and what I represented. I did not try to guess what they wanted to hear.”

Combined with his most recent experience as Associate Director of Education the trustees obviously liked his message and now it will be his role to prove them right.

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1 comment to Director of education Miller would like to see more in the way of public input on critical education issues.

  • Denise

    We hear time and time again from the board that the public hasn’t responded to their requests for input or that they’re disappointed that parents aren’t taking more time to let them know their opinions on issues. Maybe that’s not the fault of the parents but the board. It may well say something about the process the board has been using to get that input. If something isn’t working then it’s time to fix it.