published Monday, May 21st, 2012

Milliken ‘is always teaching something’

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    Amy Milliken is a second grade teacher at Wallace A. Smith Elementary School located on Hunter Rd. in Ooltewah, TN. Milliken is a nominee for an excellence in education award.
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  • Excellence in education: Amy Milliken
    Amy Milliken is a teacher at Wallace A. Smith Elementary. She is a finalist for the first ever Excellence in Public Education Awards for Greater Hamilton County.

ABOUT AMY MILLIKEN

* Age: 41

* Education: Graduated Central High School in 1989. Bachelor’s in education from UTC in 1993

* Experience: 10 years teaching, four years at Brown Middle School; six years at Wallace E. Smith Elementary School

* Personal: Married 18 years to Rick Milliken. Two children, Naddie, 14, and Macy, 12

FUN FACT: “I have big curly hair, a big mouth, and I love God.”

Teacher is Amy Milliken’s title, but it doesn’t limit what she does.

The 41-year-old mother of two said she’s willing to take on any role necessary to help her students learn how to be productive people.

“When you come into my room, I’m your mom, your dad, your aunt, grandma and your uncle,” Milliken said. “I’m not just teaching how to read and write, I’m teaching life skills.”

Milliken, a second-grade teacher at Wallace E. Smith Elementary School, is among several Hamilton County educators nominated for an Excellence in Education Award.

Parent Erin Campbell nominated Milliken for the award.

“Milliken is always teaching something,” wrote Campbell on her nomination form. “Even if it is a walk to the water fountain, she will always find a way to incorporate a valuable lesson in life or education.”

Billie Jenno, a former teacher and the principal at Wallace E. Smith Elementary, calls Milliken “outstanding, a teacher leader.”

Outside the classroom, the former middle-school basketball coach and softball coach is also a Young Adult Sunday School Class teacher at Bayside Baptist Church and she sings in the Awana Bible class for 2- and 3-year-olds.

Her students at Wallace E. Smith Elementary include a child with a learning disability who only came to the classroom periodically at the beginning of the year. She worked with him one on one, then students in the class started reading to him. He is now in her room full time and is able to read a book on his own.

“I try to meet each child where they are and provide what they need,” Milliken said. “Some come in having had no food from last night. Some kids need to talk. Some need a hug.”

Eight-year-old Kenzie Campbell told how Milliken helped her.

Learning to tell time was a challenge, said Kenzie, daughter of Erin Campbell. Some people say the time is 12:15. Others say a quarter past 12. It was confusing at first. But Milliken kept teaching.

“She’s been helping me,” Kenzie said. “I know it (how to tell time) perfectly now.”

Teaching isn’t always easy, said Milliken.

“I’ve been busting my tail, staying up late, trying to figure out ways to make learning exciting,” she said.

Jenno noted Milliken’s ability to make learning a hands-on experience as one of her strengths.

There are times when a student tells Milliken he doesn’t want to learn a subject or that she doesn’t want to work.

Milliken says she sets a standard for a child according to his ability and pushes him to reach it. It’s tough love. But the glory comes when they get it, she said.

“I love it when I see the kids get it — when the light bulb goes off.”

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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