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REPRESENTING GEORGIA As the Teacher of the Year, Miliner takes a sabbatical from the classroom and travels around the state to attend education events, speak to civic groups and represent teachers. She started the position on July 1 and is quite busy, often on the road three days per week and sometimes on the weekends. She’s working alongside groups such as her professional association, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), to talk about education in the state. “While we are in the classroom working to help our students succeed, GAE representatives are on the ground speaking on behalf of educators across the state,” she says. Miliner first joined GAE in college because of the support the organization provides to new teachers. “I’m proud to be part of state and national organizations that advocate for educators,” she says. Miliner is also part of First Lady Sandra Deal’s Read Across Georgia initiative, which was derived from the NEA’s Read Across America project. In addition, she encourages educators to vote as part of the state’s Get Involved campaign. She’ll also serve on several statewide committees and will attend the Council of Chief State School Officers meeting in Tampa. “I’m learning so much and I am glad to get my voice out there about what teachers are wanting,” she says. “A lot of them feel stressed and under appreciated. It’s exciting to be able to brag on them and talk about the amazing things teachers are doing around this state.” From building robots to incubating eggs, Georgia teachers are going beyond the standards to provide students with opportunities, she says. “We often look at the hard data and absolute value of a score to form opinions about an education system, which isn’t the best assessment of what teachers are doing,” Miliner says. “I like to talk about the growth model, which measures a child and how far he or she has grown. That’s a better representation of how hard we are working and the challenges we face.” For example, students who already fall below the standard, have learning disabilities or speak English as a second language need strong foundational skills first, she says. This is particularly true in math classes, where advanced coursework builds on the basics. Students need to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide before they delve into fractions. “The key is using data to find their gap and then tailoring the lessons to fit their needs,” she says. “When you give these students incentives, they tend to be the hardest-working students and really want to reach their goals. It’s awesome to watch.” Though she packed up her classroom this summer, Miliner still regularly returns to her home at Miller Elementary to teach guest lessons and promote innovation. www.gae.org | 21


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