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Kathryn Elizabeth “Katie” Miller, 52, of Raleigh, formerly of Brevard, departed this earthly life May 1, 2022 at UNC Medical Center, Chapel Hill, NC. She was born August 27, 1969, the daughter of Joyce A. Miller and the late Rev. Merrill C. Miller, Jr of Brevard and Cary, NC. Katie is survived by a family that loved her dearly. Jonathan Anderson Whitehead, her son, of Raleigh; Joyce Anderson Miller, mother, of Cary and Brevard; Helen Winston Miller, sister, of Raleigh; “Chip” Dr. Merrill Cushing Miller, III, brother, of Apex; 4 nephews, Jack, Paul, Ethan and Lucas Miller, of Apex; Hal M. Miller, uncle, of Raleigh; and several cousins and a great many friends who will miss her.
Her family moved to Brevard, NC when Katie was 6 years old. She attended Brevard Public Schools and graduated from Brevard High School in 1987, St. Mary's Jr. College in Raleigh in 1989 and NC State University in 1991.
Katie had an interest and flair for cooking. She wanted to experience all things French. She was introduced to France through a trip with a friend when she was in high school. It was then that a passion blossomed to spend more time there. She found her French connection through a childcare au pair organization that took her to Paris, France. She was an adventurer and embraced the challenge. It was courageous, because she didn't know anyone there and she didn't know the language, but she wanted to learn it by immersion. She entered into a one-year contract with a family who had a one-year-old active little girl. Katie would take the baby to nursery school every morning and then attend French language schools during the day. She was not only enthralled with the language, but also the customs, people, sites, art, and tastes along the way. When her contract was completed, she remained in Paris for another year and topped off her experience with classes in French at the Sorbonne. She acquired a Certificate which was testament to this mountain top experience in her life. And she had discovered her future path.
It brought her to the sense and realization of how difficult it is for people who move to a foreign land without benefit of knowing the language that surrounds them. She would say that it’s “stressful, humiliating and intimidating.”
Upon returning home she entered and completed the Master of Education Degree with Specialty in ESL at UNCC. She taught for a while in the
Charlotte Public School System before moving to Raleigh where she found work at Reedy Creek Elementary School. She taught ESL there for 15 years.
Katie dedicated herself to this profession and approached her work as a ministry. She loved children and was a star performer as a teacher. She was blessed with a creative talent which gave her “purpose” and she used it to glorify God. Her innovative methods motivated and encouraged her young students and produced very good results.
The outstanding excellence of instruction that Katie delivered to her students was recognized by many of her colleagues. Awards and nominations for awards brought community attention to her work. Some examples were Cary Chamber of Commerce “Honor-a-Teacher” nominee from Reedy Creek ES in 2016 and the Reedy Creek ES “Honor-a-Teacher” winner in 2017. She was also WCPSS Teacher of the year for Reedy Creek ES for the year 2013-2014 school year.
One of Katie's colleagues who worked closely with her summed up her meaningful contributions by making several comments. He said, “Katie was the water and sun that nurtured the growth of these children and set the path of success for many of them. Her legacy as a nurturing, caring, loving, and compassionate soul will continue. She taught these kids the most important tool for academic and personal success - - language. And for her contributions Katie will always be remembered in the hearts of many children and educators.”
She worked with the children of immigrants, many of whom spoke no English themselves. This deficit imposed a deep isolation on them. Katie organized school supper meetings in order to include these parents and she provided interpreters in various appropriate languages. This built better rapport and camaraderie among families who had not known one another before.
Four years ago, Katie switched gears and joined the staff of coordinating teachers at the Wake County Public School System ESL Department as a resource teacher – a mentor for ESL teachers in the system. She was responsible for guiding, helping and encouraging about 30 teachers and schools in an assigned territory in the county. She found it rewarding in many ways, but she missed the daily contact and interaction with the kids.
A year ago, she was stricken with AML – a form of aggressive leukemia. She bravely fought it with amazing determination, grace, and courage.
A private graveside service conducted by Rev. Elizabeth Roles is scheduled for Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm at St Paul's-in-the-Valley Cemetery in Brevard, NC. A memorial service in Raleigh will be scheduled later. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to St. Philip's Episcopal Church 256 E. Main St. Brevard, NC 28712 or to a charity of choice.
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