Teacher Tuesday: WSESD’s Shannon Miller.

August 4, 2020

Shannon Miller, right.

Teacher Tuesday: WSESD’s Shannon Miller.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, www.shelbystatebank.com.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

VICTORY TWP – When the coronavirus forced schools to turn to distance learning, the majority of schools figured out a plan for their students for the rest of the school year via the Internet. But when the program entails so much hands-on earning, it became a lot harder to facilitate instruction.

West Shore Educational Service District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs like the ones offered to high school students at West Shore Community College had many struggles to make sure students still received appropriate education while learning at home.

Shannon Miller, a 1998 Ludington High School graduate, is the Culinary Arts and Hospitality teacher for the CTE program.

“CTE is especially challenging since many of the skills we teach need to be performed hands on,” she said. “We also have a lot of state requirements involving student work experiences and field trips so digital learning creates a lot of extra challenges for us. I have high hopes that if we are in a situation to teach remotely again the expectations are clearer for everyone. Overall, I think our team has done a great job considering the hand we have been dealt.”

Miller graduated from Ferris State University, but during her first years of college didn’t really have teaching on her mind.

“I actually changed my major to education after my third year of college,” she said. “I had been subbing during the summers and school breaks and really enjoyed the energy and atmosphere. I went to Ferris and graduated from Ferris with a bachelor of arts degree  in education in 2003.”

Spending some time in the classroom after graduation gave Miller hope to land a teaching job in Mason County, but soon things changed.

“I had been working as an instructional assistant at Scottville Elementary School for a couple years in hopes that a position would open,” she said. “They then ended up laying off teachers the following year so I chose to stay home and raise my three boys.”

Not returning to the classroom for many years, Miller raised her three boys, with her husband, Todd while she worked part-time in the food and beverage industry.

“I worked at House of Flavors from 1994-2000 and Jamesport from 2000 until now,” she said. “I’ve been there off and on when my kids were young and then more so when they all went to school and I still help out during the summer months.”

With a passion for customer service, over 25 years of experience in culinary and hospitality and a teaching degree, when the job for a Culinary Arts and Hospitality teacher opened up at WSCC, Miller knew she needed to apply. 

“I am going into my third year as the Culinary Arts and Hospitality teacher for WSESD CTE program,” she said. “Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses prepare students for high demand careers with a depth of learning that builds real-world skills. CTE brings together students from nine school districts in our area. We give students the opportunity to obtain certifications and skills that can help them get a job or give them the foundation to further their education to meet their career goals. Many of the programs have articulation agreements to provide college credits after successful course completion. Students love coming to our classes because they are hands on and usually the students have a deep-rooted interest in the subject.”

Even though it might not look like a normal classroom environment, Miller has a two-part job, where she is instructing students in a more traditional-style class, along with a lot of hands-on work in the kitchen at WSCC, where her students have had the opportunity to cook and create many different culinary options from their own choosing. Miller said that seeing her students in action is one of her favorite parts of her job.

“I love watching the students get excited about learning new things,” she said. “I also enjoy watching students achieve their goals and coming back in years after to share their successes.”

With COVID-19 forcing her students to learn from home, Miller continued to work with them as closely as possible to ensure each of their own personal success and when asked about any dislikes about her job, she didn’t really have any.

“I have to say as a CTE teacher I am pretty lucky,” Miller said. “My job is a blast. I have had students tell me that if it was not for their class they would have dropped out of school. So in regards to teaching in the CTE world, I would change nothing.”

It’s obvious that Miller has a passion for working with people or she wouldn’t have had such a long-standing career in hospitality, but she does have one piece of advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in any field out there.

“As I tell any student in regards to any career. Make sure you do something you love and it will never feel like a job.”

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