A Time to Encourage: UCA Instructor Offers Words of Wisdom to Future Teachers

One thing Catherine Miller ’15, ’18 loves about teaching is providing her students with perspective as they prepare to enter the classroom. After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Miller became a long-term substitute teacher in the Conway School district before moving to the Little Rock School District to be a full-time teacher. In 2018 she earned a master’s degree in advanced studies in teacher leadership. 

“My experiences in life, as well as my experiences here at UCA, really prepared me for the classroom,” Miller said. “I was in a lot of leadership roles here on campus and being in organizations working with people serving with people. So when I went into the classroom, it was pretty much like going home, I belong here.” 

Miller came back to UCA as a clinical instructor in the College of Education in 2020. 

“It was a transition from working with kids to working with young adults,” Miller said. “I made adjustments to my teaching style,” Miller said. She says it’s important for her as a teacher to ensure her students not only earn a degree but come out of the program as a better version of themselves. Her students visit her office for advice, encouragement and snacks. 

“I tell my students all the time, I don’t want you to be me, because then I will be out of a job. I want you to be the best version of yourself. We need you in the world.”

Miller, who grew up in El Dorado, gets her spirit of encouragement from her mother who taught her to appreciate her heritage and culture. She remembers the Office of Diversity and Community as a helpful resource to her as a student. She made connections and felt a sense of belonging, while also feeling empowered to propagate her culture. 

“I would say to students who are minorities and people of color, ‘Don’t just get into your bubble and stay in your bubble and have your people. Transmit that knowledge of your culture and their knowledge of yourself out onto campus and out onto the world so that it transcends beyond just us understanding who we are.’”