Being a first year principal at Montclaire Elementary School doesn’t faze Emily Miles. The wife and mother of two is hoping her excitement about teaching will make Montclaire a model school for the district.
“I love it so far,” she said on the fourth day of classes. “It’s great, it’s a busy time.”
Miles said she became a teacher because she enjoys working with kids and “… knowing I’m having an impact on their futures …” But she also enjoys working with the teachers, telling them to have fun at their jobs and “truly enjoy the kids and everything they bring to the classroom. Enjoy the ride.”
Miles has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree in literacy and school administration from Queens University of Charlotte. Her education led to a job teaching kindergarten and first grade at Winding Springs Elementary School from 2002-05, then kindergarten and first grade at Pinewood Elementary School until 2008 and Sterling Elementary School for five more years – as a literacy facilitator, dean of instruction and then assistant principal.
As a literacy facilitator, Miles would go into the classroom of first- and second-year teachers during their planning time and help them with things like lesson plans. She took on an administrative role as the dean of instruction and evaluated teachers, preparing her for the head spot at Montclaire.
While working at Sterling Elementary, she and her husband, Ben Miles, a chef at BLT Steak in the Ritz Carlton, began Sterling Community Garden. This project teaches students about growing, maintaining and harvesting a
garden, one of her passions.
Miles said one of the best and easiest things about being a principal is walking into the building and seeing all of the children. Also, “… knowing I set the tone for the building. My excitement and my passion for learning inspires (the teachers). That’s infectious.”
Miles thinks she will be able to impact the teachers positively. “I loved being a teacher and I had a hard time leaving the classroom.”
She had to tell herself that, while she was no longer directly impacting a classroom full of students as a teacher, by leaving the classroom she was indirectly impacting hundreds of students.
Being a new principal and a former teacher does come with some difficulties. Miles said the hardest thing about teaching in general and being the new principal is all of the regulations and red tape. “The management of paperwork makes teaching hard. Every day you have to look at the kids and know that’s the meaning, that’s the purpose. Sometimes you have to prioritize the managerial stuff; that’s part of the job.”
But going into the classrooms is what makes Miles smile, and she says that makes the management side of the school worth it.