Staff Focus: Lori Miller, ESOL Support Counselor
Posted: March 26th, 2018
Growing up, HCPSS ESOL Support Counselor Lori Miller’s dream job was to be a foreign ambassador. In her current role, Miller supports English learners at Long Reach and Oakland Mills high schools and the Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL), so as she sees it: “I feel that’s what I do now by working with families and students from all over the world.”
With Miller’s father a welder and her mother an instructional assistant, she explained that “we didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents instilled in me that education was the way to advance and has an impact on what you can do.” And by growing up in a small town in Texas where Spanish was spoken in her school and home, Miller came to appreciate how language can also affect opportunities.
Miller followed her mother’s footsteps into an education career. Once she entered the classroom as a special educator, she discovered the world of school counseling and quickly worked to get the credentials to make the switch. Miller landed at HCPSS 16 years ago when her family decided to move to Maryland, near her in-laws. She joined the school system as a special educator until an opportunity opened for a counseling role that utilized her Spanish speaking skills. Miller worked in HCPSS’ International Student Registration Center and Newcomer Center until her current role as ESOL support counselor.
Miller’s upbringing helps her relate to the HCPSS community she works with because, “Students and families come here wanting a better life. English and education are still crucial stepping stones. My parents wanted the same for me and my three siblings. Some [students] may have easier access, but education should never be taken for granted because it will help open doors no matter where you go.”
Currently, Miller works with Long Reach, Oakland Mills and ARL students to help them develop high school exit plans and get ready for post-secondary learning or careers. With many of her students and families new to the country, she provides a range of supports, including with registration, class selection, access to community resources and more. At ARL, Miller supports PLACE, a new program for older international students who are interested in career preparation. She is also on the committee developing Howard County Board of Education Policy 1070, Immigrant Students (working title).
“Lori is really, at her core, a strong advocate, looking out for the best interest of the student and family,” said Kami Wagner, instructional facilitator for School Counseling and Related Services. “She has the ability to provide individualized support to some of our most vulnerable and unique student and family situations.”
Miller humbly adds that “English learners can face a multitude of challenges, but they are successful due to the dedication of the teachers and staff working together to support them. It truly is a team effort.”